Camcashew, a Cambodian-Malaysian joint venture, and South Korean firm Naroo Marine will invest $100 million in facilities in Kampong Cham to process cashew nuts and ready them for export to South Korea.
Camcashew and Naroo Marine yesterday signed a memorandum of understanding, outlining plans to work together to build cashew-processing facilities in Kampong Cham and send them to the East Asian economic powerhouse.
Syaiful Hazreen Bin H.J. Hasan Nodin, director of Camcashew, said the Korean firm had agreed to buy 10,000 tonnes of processed Cambodian cashews.
Camcashew’s 4,000 hectares of plantations in Kratie, however, are not enough to produce that amount, so they will seek the cooperation of the Cashew Nut Association of Kampong Thom to fill the gap, Mr Hasan Nodin said.
“During phase 1 of the agreement, we will be investing $30 million on cashew-processing facilities and plantations. We will expand investment and production in the following years,” Mr Hasan Nodin said, explaining that the investment will go towards building six plants and expanding its existing warehouses.
Naroo Marine’s president Kim Ki Chul said he saw a lucrative opportunity in the local cashew market when he realised that the kingdom had very few plants to process cashew nuts.
He said that most raw cashew nuts are sent to Vietnam or China as Cambodia does not have the capacity to process them, adding that he now plans to grow the commodity in Cambodia and send it to South Korea, where demand is high.
Cambodia produced 104,268 tonnes of cashews last year, 100,000 tonnes of which were bought by Vietnamese cashew-processing companies. Most production comes from Kampong Thom and Kampong Cham, which account for 29 percent and 18 percent respectively of the country’s production.
Raw cashew nuts sell for $2 per kilogram, while processed cashews go for $17 per kilogram, according to Kampong Thom’s Cashew Nut Association.
Oum Uon, president of the Sambo Prey Kub Cashew Nut Association in Kampong Thom province, said recently that local cashew-processing companies are less sophisticated than those in neighbouring countries, particularly in Vietnam, due to a lack of funding and a dearth of skills.
“The lack of know-how and funds make them very uncompetitive, so most fresh cashew nuts end up in the hands of traders, who sell them to Vietnam,” Mr Oun explained.