K BALAN PILLAI K RAMACHANDRAN NAIR
The Structure of Costs and Returns in the Cashew Industry in Kerala
THE cashew industry, which once flourished in Kerala, is today described by one and all as a languishing industry. The decline of the cashew industry is attributed to several factors which include the high cost structure, uncertain supply of raw nuts, fluctuating foreign quotations for kernel and constant industrial strife. In other words, market forces and industrial relations have accounted for the decline of the industry. The validity of these arguments needs a scientific examination. As a step in this direction, an attempt is made in this paper to study the structure of costs and returns in the cashew industry located mainly in Quilon. The study is divided into three parts.
The cashew industry in Kerala is said to be "manned" by women as they constitute the bulk of the working force in it. In 1975, there were 267 registered cashew factories in the state, of which 228 were concentrated in Quilon district. The industry employs 0.15 million workers and because of frequent lay-offs in the industry, they are given employment, on an average, for four months in a year. During seasons when the raw nut supply position is satisfactory, the workers arc given continuous employment. But during off-seasons, when the raw nut supply is inadequate and uncertain, whatever employment is available is thinly spread.