Tirupati temple’s cashew laddoos might rescue Kerala’s cashew industry

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The mouthwatering laddoos prepared as Prasad in the one wealthiest temples in the world may very soon lift up the condition of the state bleeding cashew industry, which is struggling for survival.

The laddoos, that are made and distributed as Prasad among the millions of worshippers regularly paying homage to the 5,000 years of ancient temple of Sri Venkateswara Swamy in Tirupati, Andhra Pradesh, are very much in demand. The primary ingredients of this delicacy include fine gram flour, powdered sugar, wheat flour, pure ghee and some secret spices. But what give them the taste are the cashews, the laddoos are filled with finely chopped cashew nuts and this intense use of nuts are proving to be a real blessing for the ailing Cashew industry of Kerala.

For the last five months, the government of Kerala are in talks with the government of Andhra, which is responsible for running the holy shrine backed by the temple’s own board of trustees, regarding an exclusive trade deal to provide cashew nuts to Tirupati temple. It usually gets the supply of its ingredients supply by hiring tenders involving big private players. The temple requires more than 3,000kgs of cashews per day to prepare the delicacy.

 The talks between the two governments have reached the final stage and soon an agreement would be signed between the two, stated Kerala’s minister for fisheries and cashew industry, J. Mercykutty Amma. Once this deal is sanctioned, the state Kerala will be supplying some more than 90 tonnes of these costly nuts each month to Tirupati, or at least, an assured 1,000 tonnes yearly, she added.

If the agreement with the temple goes through well, the biggest profit maker will be none other than the public-sector cashew giant the Kerala State Cashew Development Corp. Ltd (KSCDCL), based in Kollam city. This public firm employs around 12,000 people but unfortunately has been debt under the burden of huge losses. This industry, as per as an internally conducted earlier audit, each day loses more money than it gets from selling the cashews.

“This deal will be a huge relief,” said Rajesh Ramakrishnan, the managing director of KSCDCL. “Entire industry is going through a very deep crisis. Some 800 private cashew factories have shut shop in three-five years. We are the last big company.”