Demand for Cambodian cashew nuts remains robust in 2018, with the price of the commodity in the global market having experienced moderate growth in recent months, according to an official from the Ministry of Agriculture.
Kong Pheach, director of the agro-industry department at the ministry, told Khmer Times that the price of cashews is higher than last year, while production of the commodity has also expanded. Demand continues to rise, he said, explaining that more plantations are popping up around the country to meet it.
“The price of agricultural products – including cashew nuts, mango, rubber, and cassava – is better this year than in 2017,” he said.
With more than 140,000 hectares of cashew plantations, Cambodia produced over 140,000 tonnes of the commodity last year. The number of cashew plantations continues to expand in 2018, he explained.
“With guaranteed markets through contract farming, and support from Vietnam, plantations will definitely increase and we will be able to reach an output of one million tonnes in less than 10 years,” Mr Pheach said.
Oum Uon, president of the Sambo Prei Kuk Cashew Nut Association in Kampong Thom province, said farmers are now selling a kilogram of raw cashews anywhere from 6,500 ($1.62) to 8,000 riel ($2). Processed cashews and other cashew-related products can fetch as much as $17 per kilogram.
Harvest season for the commodity began early March and will go until the end of May. The period of highest yield will be from mid-March to mid-April, Mr Uon said.
“So far, our association has collected three tonnes of cashew nuts from farmers, and our goals is to collect 10 tonnes by the end of the harvest,” he said.
“Besides exporting the raw goods to Vietnam, we have also started processing the nuts locally, particularly at the Sambor Prei Kuk temple complex in Kampong Thom.”
Song Saran, CEO of Amru Rice and founder of the Cambodian Agriculture Cooperative Cooperation (CCAC), said they have a number of cashew-related projects under consideration.
He told Khmer Times that he expects that CCAC will soon start processing and storing cashews, along with other products like pepper, fruits and vegetables. Currently, CCAC works only with rice.
CCAC serves as a storage and processing facility for agricultural products in Kampong Thom. Funded by the European Union and a host of local associations, the centre was started with an investment of more than $3 million, and can now store over 5,000 tonnes of produce.
“Now, the price of cashew nuts in the international market has fallen a little, particularly in Africa. Fortunately, the situation is still good for Cambodian cashews this year,” Mr Saran said.
“Almost 95 percent of Cambodian raw cashew nuts were shipped to Vietnam. Only one or two percent of our cashew exports were processed,” Mr Saran said.
“Vietnam is the biggest market, followed by India,” he added.
Early this year the ministry signed a memorandum of understanding with the Vietnam Cashew Association to bolster the production of cashews nuts in Cambodia and reach an annual output of one million.
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.
Cashews are grown in Ratanakkiri, Mondulkiri, Kratie, Tboung Khmum, Kampong Cham, and Kampong Thom.
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.