In the first three months of the year, Cambodia exported a total of 233,050 tonnes of raw cashew nuts worth about $320 million to Vietnam, said the Cashew nut Association of Cambodia (CAC). According to the association, the figure is down 12.95 per cent compared to the same period last year.
“This decline is not a cause for concern, as the association has been forecasting data since the beginning of the year, and exports have fallen due to a drop in wet grain prices at the end of March. Therefore, CAC informed our members to stop selling and drying produce, because we expect a jump in prices around August,” said CAC president Uon Silot.
Silot added that according to CAC, world cashew yields have not increased, so members of the association who have access to warehouses have begun drying cashew nuts. The association has paid close attention to Vietnamese exports, as they make up almost 100 per cent of the kingdom’s exports.
According to Silot, cashew nuts are a high value-added agricultural product with a long-term outlook, which means that demand for this type of luxury good is increasing. In Cambodia, the most popular cashew nut is the M23 variety, which is large in size, and delicious. On average, a hectare of cashews can yield 1.49 tonnes.
“It is estimated that there are 22,000 farmers and about 38,000 people working in the cashew production chain, in addition to seasonal labour. Currently, almost all cashew products are exported unprocessed, but we could provide an additional 10,000 jobs if raw cashew products throughout Cambodia were processed and packaged locally,” he said.
At the same time, Nok Bunthon, a grower and president of the Kampong Thom Cashew Nut Association, said that farmers in his province sell more wet nuts than dried due to weather conditions and a lack of drying facilities.
“Wet cashews currently command 4,300 riel per kg. Prices are falling compared to last year, but farmers are not overly concerned.
“Brokers say the cashew nuts harvested this time were of poor quality, with damage due to worms and insects. The early rains caused worms to lay eggs earlier in the year and pierce the seeds. In Kampong Thom, it is difficult to dry because of the rain and the inclement weather. Those who have large plantations are losing a lot of potential profit while they wait eight months for sales to improve,” he added.
According to the CAC, there are five countries in Asia that can grow cashews: Cambodia, India, Vietnam, Indonesia and the Philippines. Cambodia has targeted eleven provinces for cashew nut production, with about 700,000ha under cultivation. Global crude cashew production has increased 12-fold in the last 50 years, from less than 300,000 tonnes in 1961 to 3.7 million tonnes in 2008.
In 2022, the Kingdom exported 670,000 tonnes of raw cashew nuts, worth $1.077 billion, to international markets, including Vietnam, Japan and China. Several other nations are currently exploring the possibility of importing the Kingdom’s cashews.