Cambodia produced 610,000 tonnes of cashew nuts in the first half of this year, of which 570,000 tonnes worth $785 million were exported to Vietnam in raw form, marking a drop of 13.94 per cent year-on-year in terms of value, the Cashew nut Association of Cambodia (CAC) reported.
The dip in export value, according to CAC president Uon Silot, was caused by a loss of “about 100,000ha” in cashew cultivation area “in the past two years”, increased purchases from domestic processing enterprises, farmers drying the drupe seeds to sell at higher prices during the August-October period, and climate change.
“Vietnam has historically bought large quantities of Cambodian cashew nuts, but since we’ve been unable to meet their demand, Vietnam has had to buy more raw cashew nuts from West Africa, including the Ivory Coast. However, the Ivory Coast had also invested in processing them domestically,” he said.
He claimed that the CAC had predicted such a decline earlier this year and that the first-half figures did not come as a surprise. The association also anticipates a roughly one-tenth year-on-year decline in raw cashew nut exports to Vietnam in the second half.
Silot mentioned that more cashew nuts are being processed domestically – thereby increasing their value – and that the CAC had struck a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the state-owned Small and Medium Enterprise Bank of Cambodia Plc (SME Bank) for low interest rate loans for export-oriented processing.
He also cited informal exports as the cause of the discrepancies in data between the CAC and Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. For reference, the ministry puts the first-half total for cashew nut exports at just over 363,173 tonnes, which it notes fell by 12.67 per cent year-on-year.
In Lay Huot, proprietor of Chey Sambor Cashew Nut Processing Handicrafts in Kampong Thom province, on July 17 reiterated plans to scale up and accelerate operations, which include upgrades to larger, autonomous machinery.
These ambitions, she said, will be underpinned by the agriculture ministry’s support as well as the National Policy on Cashew Nuts for 2022-2027.
She affirmed that her company has shipped 70 tonnes of processed cashew nuts to Japan year-to-June, out of the 200 targeted for 2023, and unveiled plans to buy as many as 5,000 tonnes of fresh cashew nuts from farming cooperatives next year.
“Our handicraft enterprise is prepared to expand processing this year, in cooperation with partner companies,” Lay Huot enthused, noting that her business buys cashew nuts from four farming cooperatives in Kampong Thom province and another four in neighbouring Preah Vihear.