In Cambodia, the most popular cashew variety is the M23, which has a large sized nut and a delectable taste. According to the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, cashews yield an average of 1.49 tonnes per hectare, but the M23 variant offers farmers a chance to collect even larger harvests.

Cashew nuts are an excellent example of a value-added agricultural product, and revenue is increasing for this kind of in-demand “luxury product”, which suggests a positive long-term outlook for its growers.

Cashew nut Association of Cambodia (CAC) president Uon Silot said there are several varieties grown in Cambodia – M1 or SM1, M23, IM4, M10, H09, M7 and SAN1. Of these varieties, M23 is the most cultivated, accounting for more than 60 per cent of the total area dedicated to cashew farming.

“The M23 variant is a high maintenance type, so farmers must be especially careful of how they are grown. They are one of the fastest flowering varieties of cashew, however, which means less time between viable harvests,” he noted.

He explained that the M23 is also more weather-resistant than other varieties, and also produces a higher yield, with an average plantation producing two tonnes per hectare.

He said the codes for each variant were determined by the name of the plantation where it was first identified. In this case, Var Ratsan, owner of a cashew plantation in Soutip commune’s Skun village of Kampong Cham province’s Cheung Prey district, discovered the breed at the farm of a man named Mony.

“The M23 variety was identified by Ratsan on Mony’s farm on the 23rd, so to honor him for preserving the breed, Ratsan named the breed Mony23,” Silo said.

He said the M23 was selected by experts as one of the most viable varieties for the Kingdom. It is entirely natural and not genetically modified.

According to the agriculture ministry, global cashew production has increased more than twelve-fold in recent decades, jumping from less than 300,000 tonnes in 1961 to 3.7 million tonnes by 2008. The number of plantations almost doubled again from 2000 to 2008.

In 2022, Cambodia exported 670,000 tonnes of raw cashew nuts. The trade was worth $1.77 billion, with the majority of shipments going to Vietnam, Japan and China. Several other countries are considering increasing imports of the Kingdom’s cashews.