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Cashew prices promising in early harvest but poor weather hits yield

Sok Chan / Khmer Times Share:
Farmers in some provinces are facing a delay to the start of the cashew harvest from unfavourable weather conditions. Luca Penati

Early harvest season prices for cashew nuts appear to be promising but farmers in some provinces are facing a possible  delay in the start of the harvest because of unfavourable weather conditions. The harvest season of the cashew nut generally begins in February and continues through the end of May.

Suy Kokthean, deputy and business manager of the Cashew Association of Cambodia (CAC), said that some provinces have begun to harvest their cashews  but plantations in others have yet to start because the weather remains unfavourable.

“The harvest has begun in Kampong Cham province, Tbong Khmum and some areas in Kampong Thom province. Normally, cashew plantations start to deliver their yields in early February. This year, the harvest will be delayed and may last through June,” Kokthean added.

Kokthean noted that the price of cashew nut is now 5,500 riel per kilogramme (kg), adding that the price fluctuates.   He cited last year’s harvest season pricing starting at 6,000 riels per kg, but added that the current price is still good if farmers follow the standards for drying and maintenance..

“Despite the challenges of COVID-19, farmers can realise prices between $1,500 and $2,000 per tonne. The price could drop to $1 per kilogram and still be profitable to the farmer,” he added.

Kokthean said that the average cashew yield is one to 1.5 tonnes per hectare depending on the soil, plantation and crop maintenance. Some areas can produce yields of up to 3 tonnes per hectare.

“We are optimistic that the price of cashews will not be an issue over the next five years. The issue we face is climate change and we are now collaborating with experts to research new seedlings that have a greater resilience to climate variations.  The cashew nut seedling we currently plant in the Kingdom is the M23 variety,” he added.

Cambodia exports raw cashew nuts primarily to Vietnam, Japan and China. The CAC is trying to attract more buyers to the Kingdom, to the benefit of its farmer members.

According to the report from the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, it stated that the Kingdom’s total area of cashew nut plantation was 258,984 hectares in 2020. Harvested areas for this period were 162,294 hectares and the average yield achieved was 1.49 tonnes per hectare.

Exports of cashew nuts reached 230,981 tonnes last year.

Loeng Kimsean owner of Loeng Manut Chamkarlue Cashew Nut in Kampong Cham, said that he has 10 hectares of cashew nut plantations which yielded between 30 and 40 tonnes last year. During the early harvest season he said that prices were good but by the middle of the harvest season the price dropped to below $1 per kg.

The price rebounded by the end of the harvest season, especially from August to October when prices reached between 6,000 and 7,000 riels per kg as stored and dried production was made available for sale at the end of the harvest season.

“This year’s early harvest season is seeing a good price, about 5,700 to 5,800 riels per kg. We have yet to harvest very much though because the weather has not been favourable,” said Kimsean.

 

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