Gods in India do answer prayers. The Kerala government is close to clinching a cashew supply pact with Andhra Pradesh for Tirupati Venkateswara temple which needs 3,000 kg cashew nuts daily for preparing laddus (a sweet) distributed as a holy offering.
Other temples, under the Temple Board Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam, that use cashew nuts in their payasam prasad also may later join the sourcing pact with two Kerala government-run enterprises —Capex Society and KSCDC (Kerala State Cashew Development Corporation).
“The first order would be to the tune of Rs 70 crore,” said Kerala cashew minister Mercykutty Amma to local publications. Till recently, the Tirupati temples had been reliant on private trade intermediaries and Goa-based sellers for cashew supply. The deal with two Kerala government cashew oufits is expected to bring in logistics aggregation and better cost optimisation in the temple’s prasadam manufacturing facility.
With rating agencies like Crisil pointing out that exports, which account for 25 per cent of processed cashew business, would decline by 15 to 18 per cent year on year, Kerala Cashew Board has been looking at feeding the domestic cashew demand.
For the first time, this aggressive domestic sales drive saw KSCDC logging Rs 5.5 crore sales during Onam season. “Our most sought after cashew product was the grade-150 jumbo nut, priced Rs 1,335 per kg,” S Jayamohan, KSCDC chairman, told Financial Express.
In Venkateswara temple alone, about 1,000 tonnes of cashew nuts per year would be needed. Every day, the temple distributes four lakh laddus as prasadam. “After talks, we have come to an agreement on a rate of Rs 669 per kg,” said Jayamohan. The initial order from Venkateswara temple is for 30 tonnes. “Our new strategy is to do away with intermediaries and make direct supply deals,” he added.