Now the cashew fruit farmers in Karnataka can make money out of what they have mostly considered waste. The cashew fruit, which is used to make Fenny- country liquor available only in Goa, is now in demand in the juice manufacturing companies in the South Canara region.
The Hindu reported that after many false starts, the first commercial production of cashew apple juice is settling slowly in the market.
A Puttur-based juice manufacturing company, Madhu Multiples has been working on producing a non-alcoholic drink for the last three years. "Funny"- cashew fruit juice is extracted from the fruit is mixed with a carbonated drink and has made small inroads into the Karnataka market .
After the cashew nut is separated from the fruit, the manufacturing company buys the fruits (pulp) from farmers of Dakshina Kannada for Rs.10 per kg, when the farmers bring it to the factory and Rs. 5 per kg, when the company collects it from the farm.
"The shelf-life of the fruit is only 4 hours. So we get it from places close-by. But, the cashew fruit is grown in Dakshina Kannada, Udupi, Kodagu etc. A lot of it is still going waste." says Venkatesh Krishna.
The final product that comes in 300 ml and 650 ml pet-bottles is sold for Rs.30 and Rs.60 respectively.
In the trial sessions in Dakshina Kannada, Mysuru, Udupi regions, the cashew juice that is produced in various flavors was widely accepted by the people.
"Our major market is still the South Canara region as of now but we do find a growing market in Hassan and Mandya. It is an acquired taste, so it will take time." he says.
The fruit's production is at its peak from February to May.
When asked about how they produce in other months, he said, "The extracted juice is stored as syrup for the months when the production is low."
"It is not that the farmers did not know that the fruit can be juiced. They didn't have the equipment and resources. As the fruit has a low shelf-life, the fruit was used as manure by farmers. These initiative will only give the farmers more ways to earn money." says Krishna