Cambodia’s cashew nut prices slightly dropped because of border closures caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, although some goods are being let through.
The price of cashew nuts was $2 per kilogramme (kg). It fell to $1.5 a kg for raw cashew nuts and $7.5 a kg for processed cashew nuts this year, according to an official from the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. Cambodian raw cashew nuts went through around a 50 percent price drops compared with statistics recorded in mid-2019 last year.
Cambodia’s cashew nuts exports primarily go to Vietnam, Japan, Russia, Hong Kong, China, France and South Korea. However, 95 percent of raw cashew nuts were sent to Vietnam for processing and only 5 percent were processed locally, according to Kann Kunthy, managing director of Cambodia Agriculture Cooperative Corp (CACC).
He added that Cambodia is able to produce up to 250,000 tonnes cashew nuts a year. A total of 15 provinces grow the plant, notably in Kampong Cham, Kampong Thom and Tboung Khmum but also in Siem Reap, Preah Vihear, Ratanakiri, Kratie, and Stung Treng.
“We expect that in the next three to four years, the harvest will be about 500,000 tonnes of cashew nuts. If there are no policies to attract investors to process the cashew nuts, we could deal with this big issue,” said Kunthy.
The challenges facing cashew nut marketing cashew nuts he said are the costs of logistics, transportation, electricity and finance. Therefore, Cambodia cannot compete with Vietnam, added Kunthy, who said harvesting of the nutritious morsel was conducted from March to May each year.
Kunthy said that his company collected about 100 tonnes of organic cashew nuts from farmers and expects to export them this month or in October. He said CACC purchases and exports only organic cashew nuts and added the Ministry of Commerce is drafting a cashew nuts policy to establish a federation of cashew nut producers.
“A tonne of cashew nuts is around $8,000 to $9,000 compared with rice, which is around $400 per tonne so it is 20-fold more valuable than rice,” he said, adding that the future relies on adopting an incentive scheme to attract potential investors to foster the product’s branding and marketing.
Kong Pheach, director of agro-industry department at the Ministry of Agriculture, said because of the lower price of cashew nuts, it has been profitable for big companies who are able to financially sustain their operations during the pandemic. He pointed out that the sole issue is the devaluation of the crop because of the lack of efficiency within processing facilities.
“We need more direct foreign investment so that we can expand our market to other countries because there is a high demand for the product. The ministry is proposing a plan in coordination with investors from Japan to bolster the appeal of Cambodian cashew nuts,” Pheach added.
“We need proper contract-farming schemes as a model to promote cashew nuts on a wider scale. If we pay no attention to this issue, the nuts will lose their value.
“Therefore, we are thinking about what problems we face and also cooperating with others in order to create local products of good quality that can compete with other markets,” Pheach revealed.
Locally, there has been an increased production in cashew nuts with many people planting them on their land around their homes.
The prominence of the crop has enabled there to be more local packing and processing facilities, which are gradually being implemented in almost every province.
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