Maharashtra government to produce ethanol, CNG from cashew apple
Amidst rising chorus for green fuel, the Maharashtra government has proposed to produce ethanol and compressed natural gas (CNG) through cashew apple and cashew apple cake. The government has shortlisted the coastal districts, Ratnagiri and Sidhudurg, large-scale producers of cashew nuts, to set up two pilot projects. The government has established a ten-member committee chaired by the Director (Marketing) to make recommendations in two months.
The committee also consists of Director (Horticulture), representative of Konkan Agriculture University, representatives of Praj Industries and Primove Industries and promoters of cashew processing units from Ratnagiri and Sindhudurg districts.
Maharashtra’s annual production of cashew seeds is of 2.5 lakh tonnes while it produces 22 lakh tonnes of cashew apple. It is also one of the leading producers of cashew nuts with 60,000 tonnes of annual production.
A government official told DNA, “Cashew apple can be used to produce ethanol after fermentation and that can be used as auto fuel. Besides, cashew apple cake is raw material for the production of CNG, biogas, poultry feed and confectionary items. After setting up two pilot projects in Ratnagiri and Sindhudurg, the government will assess the commercial viability of ethanol and CNG and take a call on its commercial production.”
Harish Kamble, promoter of Swami Samarth Cashew nuts industry, estimated that the state can produce nearly 4.5 lakh litre of ethanol from 22 lakh tonnes of cashew apple annually. However, he said the study is still underway to estimate production of CNG from cashew apple cake.
Kamble said due to lack of processing facilities, cashew apple worth nearly Rs 450 crore is wasted annually. “The commercial production of ethanol and CNG will help local producers and thereby transform the economy of the Konkan region,” he noted.