The next World Cashew Nut Convention will likely take place in Siem Reap after Cambodia was asked last week to host the event by the organisers, according to a high-ranking government official.
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Hean Vanhan, director-general of the General Directorate of Agriculture, told Khmer Times yesterday that during his visit to this year’s World Cashew Nut Convention and Exhibition, which was held in Macau, he was approached by the event’s organisers after giving a presentation on the Cambodian government’s strategy to support the local cashew nut sector.
“Last week I attended the World Cashew Nut Convention and Exhibition in Macau, where I presented our policy to support the cashew nut sector in Cambodia, including boosting production and exports, and implementing contract farming schemes.
“The organiser asked me to host the event next year saying it will be an opportunity for Cambodia, particularly for the private sector, to showcase their products,” Mr Vanhan said.
Mr Vanhan said he has not declined or accepted the invitation yet, but said that if the event were to take place in the kingdom, it will probably be in Siem Reap.
“The convention would attract investors to the sector, which would mean more processing plants. Right now, we send most of our raw material abroad. There is a lot of money to be made by processing the product in the country, but we are missing out,” Mr Vanhan said.
Song Saran, CEO of Amru Rice, supported the idea of hosting the convention in Cambodia, saying that it will help “connect the cashew sector to the world.”
Hosting the event in the country will contribute to diversify local agricultural production, which is now too reliant on rice and cassava, he added.
“I give my support to this initiative. It is very important for cashew farmers,” Mr Saran said.
“We need to support alternative crops, not just rice, cassava or black pepper.”
Last year, Cambodia produced more than 104,000 tonnes of cashew nuts. Kampong Thom, Kampong Cham and Ratanakkiri are the biggest provinces in terms of area allocated to the cultivation of cashews, with 27, 18 and 17 percent of total cultivated land growing the crop, respectively.
Exports of cashews has been in decline for the last few years. Last year, the country shipped 73,179 tonnes of the commodity abroad, while, in 2016, 87,854 tonnes were exported. In 2015, exports amounted to 103,258 tonnes.
Vietnam is the biggest market for Cambodian cashews, absorbing nearly 99 percent of all exported Cambodian cashews (72,248 tonnes out of total of 73,179).
After Vietnam, the biggest markets in 2017 were Thailand (450 tonnes), China (301 tonnes) and India (169 tonnes).
Last month, the government and the Vietnam Cashew Association signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) that aims to bolster the production of cashews nuts in Cambodia to reach one million tonnes a year.
Under the agreement, the Vietnam Cashew Association agreed to share with local farmers advancements in technology related to planting and harvesting, as well as boost investment in local plantations, contract farming, and research.
The Vietnam Cashew Association has also announced plans to set up plantations in Cambodia equaling 500,000 hectares.