The cashew season has begun with the start of picking cashew nuts in the Kingdom, and growers of the commodity and the Cashew Nut Association of Cambodia are optimistic about a good harvest this season.
“Production of cashew this season in the Cambodia is likely to be between 800,000 tons and 1,000,000 tons if the weather conditions remain favourable as has been forecast,” Uon Siloth, President of the Cashew nut Association of Cambodia, told Khmer Times.
The cashew cultivation season this year has started around one and a half months earlier than 2022 and about one month before the 2021 season, Siloth said.
The early start can be attributed to the continuation of the weather conditions favourable to the cashew harvesting and the expected beginning of the salty dew in mid-February, the Cashew nut Association of Cambodia President remarked.
If the weather remains like this, the yield and quality of the product will be better than in 2022, and will fetch a good price in the market this year, he said.
Compared with the last year, the prices at the beginning of this season are better. “Wet cashew nuts cost between 5,500 riels and 6,500 riels per kilogram at the beginning of this season, whereas at the start of the season in 2022, the farm produce fetched between 4,500 riels and 5,800 riels per kilogram,” Siloth said.
The government identifies cashew as an agro-industrial crop as well as one of the 12 priority crops, and to support the growth and expansion of the sector, the draft National Policy on Cashew 2022-27 was approved by the Council of Ministers in a plenary session chaired by Prime Minister Hun Sen, on January 13.
According to the draft policy, the government plans to increase the domestic processing of cashew to about 25 percent by 2027 and around 50 percent by 2032, and promote its exports by diversifying the market.
“The policy focuses on raising yield and quality of cashew to compete in the market, increasing processing and value-addition by promoting local processing units, and boosting export through market diversification, multi-sector relations, trade facilitation, cost reduction and market advantage promotion,” Siloth said.
Last year, the country exported around 670,000 tons of raw cashew nuts to the international market, which was worth $1.07 billion. The export of raw cashew nuts from Cambodia has seen variations. In 2019, around 600,000 tons of cashew nut was exported and the shipment increased to about 950,000 tons in 2020 and touched a high of 1,100,000 tons in 2021 only to decline by 34.65 percent in 2022.
According to the Cashew nut Association of Cambodia, the per ton price of cashew in 2022 was between $1,350 and $1,700, and it varied between $1,300 and $1,600 in 2021. A year earlier in 2020 the price fluctuated in the range of $1,500 to $1,800. In 2019, the commodity fetched between $1,800 per ton and $2,000 per ton.
The price of cashew like any other commodity depends on market factors, like global productivity, availability, general demand, quality of the produce, etc.
However, cashew produced in Cambodia, which is among the top producers of the commodity in the world, are of very good quality in both terms of out-turn and nut size and has a good demand in the international market.
The Republic of Côte d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast) of Africa and India are the topmost producers of cashew. Among the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) member states, Cambodia, Vietnam, Burundi and the Philippines are big producers of the commodity. Vietnam imports around 92 percent of the Cambodian raw cashew. India despite being one of the large producers of the commodity imports around 3 percent of Cambodian cashew. Several other countries import the commodity but in very small quantities. Only around 5 percent is used in the domestic market.
As the local processing capacity is small with few facilities, cashew cultivated in Cambodia is primarily exported in shells and unprocessed.
“There is a high dependence on the Vietnamese raw cashew nut market with associated loss of value addition opportunity. If processed locally for export it would create an additional $202 million in annual export value based on 2019 market prices. It would also create 28,000 direct jobs in cashew factories and up to seven times that number in indirect activities.
“In addition, improvements in post-harvest handling and infrastructure can increase farm and local handler incomes by up to $75 per ton with a relatively low level of investment,” stated the National Cashew Policy Recommendations 2020-30.
This article was first published in Khmer Times. All contents and images are copyright to their respective owners and sources.