The students of pioneer batch of TAPMI’s HR program got a chance to witness how things work at ground-level, by visiting a cashew processing factory. It only goes on to show how students are not just given the text-book knowledge, but also gain a holistic view of things by practically being a part of initiatives like industry visits.

The industry was an SME- located in Yerlapady, Karnataka. The entire batch of 32 students was bifurcated in two parts so that each student could have a closer look at the working of the factory.

The surprising part of the visit was their minimal wastage coming from the factory- the entire process ensured that whatever material wasn’t required to the cashew-buyer, was used in some form of the other. To give a brief about how factory works and how they ensure minimal wastage: the raw cashew nuts (with shells) are imported from about 6 different African countries, and they’re first put out to drying. Post which, due to their now-brittle stage, they’re given back some moisture and then graded according to their color, via an optical grader, which has 2 cameras which make the segregation almost flawless. The grading is done according to their color because it’s a clear indication of their quality. The selected cashews are then sent to the packaging unit where they’re packed according to the geographical location of their consumption. If they’re to be exported, they’re packed in vacuumed plastic. However, for domestic consumption, tin boxes are used because they ensure that Indian godowns, which are frequented by rodents, are impenetrable to the same, hence preserving the product.

There are many “waste” products in the process. However, they’re being judiciously used by the owner. For example-  the skin, which wraps the kernels, is used in tobacco coloration, the corrosive oil is used in metallic paints and even the shells are sold off because farmers feed them to their pigs. Not to mention, Amith Cashews is a green factory, producing bare minimum of pollution.

Another point to be noted here is that like many industries, this SME is also looking at automation, where they plan to use certain machines which will increase their productivity by 2.5x! One student wanted to know if there would there be lay-offs- to which the answer came that there would be none, which would help the factory achieve the 2.5x production aim post automation. Also, the workers would be trained to use the machines for about 3 days.

Mr. Amith then came back to the institution with the students to give them a deeper understanding about the functioning of the factory. There, he answered all the questions raised by students patiently and with utmost transparency. Some of the questions included how a factory deals internationally, if the falling/rising rupee has any impact on the same, and how many factories contribute to the GDP of the nation, amongst others. The discussion also revolved around how much initial investment is required to set up a unit of that size. The automation itself, mentioned earlier, is going to cost the owner about 3-4 crores. Also, to cater to the demands of different clients when it comes to differently flavored cashews, the owner has a third party business partner, who collects the cashews from Amith Cashews, customizes the flavor according to the wishes of the client, and then sends the same back, ready to be delivered to the client.

This industry visit added a lot of value to students’ learning because not only did  they understand management on a very ground level, but they also learned the economic aspect of it- about leanings.

Special thanks to Professor Rajasulochana for ideating and executing this wonderful and very enriching experience!