Due to a sharp drop in cashew prices, output, and climate change, the cashew plantation area in Cambodia has been shrinking.
From the peak of around 800,000 hectares in 2021, the land under cashew farming has shrunk to 700,000 hectares in 2022, according to the Cashew nut Association of Cambodia. The association attributed this decline to a number of factors.
According to agriculture statistics, since 2009 the area under cashew cultivation started increasing at a fast pace. It increased from 66,513 hectares in 2009 to 800,000 hectares in 2021, which was an increase of 12 times in the cultivation area.
Concerned over the decline in cashew yield, Uon Silot, President of the Cashew nut Association of Cambodia, told Khmer Times, “In January-October of 2022, Cambodia exported over $1 billion worth of raw cashew nuts (660,000 tons) to the international market. But it was a decline of 34.65 percent over the same period in 2021.
He said prices of wet cashew nuts declined between KHR 3,800 and KHR 2,800 during the March-May period, and dried cashew nuts prices between KHR 7,200 and KHR 4,200.
In 2021, a large number of farmers in Kampong Cham, Stung Treng, Ratanakkiri, Mondulkiri, Kratie, Tbong Khmum, Oddar Meanchey, Siem Reap, Preah Vihear, Kampong Chhnang, and Kampong Thom turned towards growing cashew nuts with remarkable success.
He blamed the local weather for the low yield and also for lower than desired quality of cashew. “It means we produce less and of lower quality of cashew,” he remarked.
On the differences between the Cambodian Cashew Association (CCA) and the Cambodian Cashew nut Federation, established by the Ministry of Commerce, he said the CCA is an independent institution that doesn’t receive assistance from the government. It was set up with the help of farmers, and entrepreneurs for helping cultivators in adapting to climate change, reducing production costs, and helping farmers and entrepreneurs. The CCA has been working for 10 years in this field, he added.
Nhim Nhoeun, a cashew farmer from Santuk district in Kampong Thom province, told Khmer Times, compared with cassava and rubber, cashew cultivation required regular investment, which increased the cost. “While the cashew prices were falling, most farmers in his area are turning towards other crops,” he said.
According to experts from the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries (MAFF), cashew nut is grown in many tropical countries. A decent cashew crop needs 5 months of rainfall and the ability of the soil to absorb water well. Cashews can be grown in areas with 500-4,000 mm of rainfall per year.
This article was first published in Khmer Times. All contents and images are copyright to their respective owners and sources.