Despite coronavirus border restrictions, Cambodia exported more than 200,000 tonnes of cashew nuts to international markets in the first nine months of this year, up 20.51 per cent year-on-year, the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries reported.
The Kingdom shipped cashew nut products to the Vietnamese, Thai, Japanese, Russian, Chinese, Hong Kong, French, South Korean, Turkish and Bangladeshi markets during the period, the ministry said.
In Lai Huot, owner of the Madam Huot cashew nut processing cottage industry in Kampong Thom province’s southwestern Kampong Svay district, told The Post that 40 tonnes of cashew nuts processed at her business had been sold to local markets in the period January-September.
She noted that the sharp drop in international tourists during Covid-19 had made a dent in the cashew nut market, but stressed that it was business as usual for Madam Huot, with sales on track to outstrip last year’s 50 tonnes.
Lai Huot is also the president of the Chey Sambor Cashew Nut Processing Handicraft Association, which has a membership of 33 families. The association grows cashew nuts on 344ha for exclusive domestic supply.
Looking to capitalise on a potential post-Covid-19-era boom in international cashew nut orders, she has been working with Top Planning Japan Co Ltd to set up a processing plant in the district.
The new facility will have the daily capacity to process three tonnes of cashew nuts and detach the peel from 10 tonnes of raw cashew kernels.
The $200,000 plant is scheduled to be launched later this year and is expected to process 90 tonnes of cashew nuts per annum for export to Japan – set to be the Kingdom’s first shipment of the crop to the East Asian nation.
Lai Huot said: “I’ve clinched two major deals this year. I’ve signed a contract to supply the Japanese firm [Top Planning Japan] and another to supply local company Khmer Organic Cooperative Co Ltd with 300kg a month. In addition to that, we’ll retail across some provinces.”
Cashew nuts are typically harvested from early March to May, she noted. During this year’s harvest season, prices plunged from 6,800-7,000 riel ($1.66-$1.71) at the beginning to close the season at around 4,700-5,000 riel, according to Lai Huot.
“The cashew nut market is notably strong, with loads of traders visiting my cottage industry and buying my wares in recent months.
“As long as there are cashew nuts, there is no shortage of buyers,” she said.
In August, Minister Veng Sakhon noted that Cambodian agricultural product exports blossomed from nearly $1 billion in 2013 to $1.5 billion last year.
The ministry reported that the Kingdom exported some 202,318 tonnes of cashew nuts last year to foreign markets, up nearly 100 per cent from 101,973 tonnes in 2018.
The area allotted to cashew nut cultivation totals 149,660ha, spanning 22 provinces, data from the ministry show.
Ngin Chhay, the director-general of the ministry’s General Directorate of Agriculture, told a news conference early in August that the government is diversifying its agricultural sector with a vision to become more modern, competitive, inclusion, climate-resilient and sustainable.
He said Cambodia’s agricultural product exports have risen annually, with significant momentum in the last six years – from over 3.44 million tonnes in 2014 to more than 4.8 million tonnes last year.
To date, he said, the Kingdom has exported 61 agricultural products to 59 countries around the world.