There’s more to the Cashew Fest Goa 2023 than just the unique niro ice cream
Panaji, April – In Goa, the spotlight on cashews is usually a summer ritual.
That’s the season when ripe cashew apples are plucked to be distilled into feni and young friends get together to roast some cashew nuts over fire.
But this year round, the Cashew Fest Goa 2023, has put both the fruit and the nut, on centre stage in wake of issues related to the excessive import of cashews from Africa, recent forest fires ravaging cashew plantations and the impact of climate change on cashew nut yield in the state.
Feni promoters and restaurateurs in the state however have fully seized the opportunity provided by the Goa Forest Development Corporation Limited’s (GFDC) Cashew Fest Goa 2023 to delve into the significance of the humble cashew to the state’s economy and its identity.
“The Cashew Festival is a great initiative by the GFDC to promote the cashew fruit, which is an integral part of Goan heritage. It’s an extremely versatile fruit whose reputation and taste has crossed international borders. This platform will also advance the interests of local farmers and communities who are intrinsic to the cultivation and culture of the cashew fruit,” says Cedric Vaz, Partner Madame Rosa Distillery.
The two-day festival, which is being held in Panaji, has also opened debate about the innovative use of cashew as well as how well this resource can be tapped fully.
According to Prahlad Sukhtankar, Goa Chapter Head of National Restaurant Association of India (NRAI), the festival provides a good opportunity to highlight the versatility of the delicious tropical fruit.
“The issue is that seventy percent of the fruit is currently getting wasted because the fruit is not being utilised in creative ways and there is not enough demand. Therefore farmers are not getting money to collect the fruit. Literally, seventy percent cashew fruit and the niro is going to waste,” he said.
Although a cash crop, Goa has an annual output of between 20000 to 25000 tons per year as far as cashew nut production is concerned. But the catch is while nuts are always in demand, the cashew apple is often a less used resource.
And this is just where innovative entrepreneurs like Hansel Vaz come in.
Vaz, founder of Cazulo Premium Feni in collaboration with ‘Ice Cream Man’, has been working on an ice cream made out of cashew niro.
“For us, niro ice cream is just the tip of the iceberg. We’ve gone one step further and converted every Cazulo cocktail that we have into a frozen dessert too,” said Vaz, whose feni-based cocktails have been the rage over the last few years.
“We are looking to expand horizons like into ice creams, into jams, into food. If we can create markets for such products and value-added products like ice cream or feni, this automatically has a trickle-down effect right down to the lowest common denominators essentially the farmers and horticulturists living in rural Goa,” Vaz also said.
Sukhtankar also singled out a research initiative by the BITS Pilani KK Birla Goa which wants to partner with the Goa government to study how the discarded cashew fruit can be tapped for generating energy and in bakery or agriculture verticals.
“The idea of using discarded cashew fruit and pulp in generating energy or as a resource in agriculture and bakery is a commendable initiative. We urge the government to give due consideration to this proposal and take necessary steps to implement it. It is through collaborative efforts like these that we can build a more sustainable and resilient food system for the future,” Sukhtankar said.