The Ministry of Agriculture has established a working group for cashew nuts that aims to bump up production of the commodity to 1 million tonnes a year.
The working group has been tasked with conducting studies on cashew nut production and has the ultimate goal of increasing total production tenfold.
The group will be chaired by Hean Vanhan, director general of the General Directorate of Agriculture.
“The working group has the responsibility to coordinate and facilitate the drafting of plans and programmes to reach an annual production of 1 million tonnes by 2029,” the ministry said in a statement.
Oum Uon, president of the Sambo Prei Kuk Cashew Nut Association in Kampong Thom province, welcomed the news, saying farmers stand to benefit from the group.
“It’s a good move. I hope that through this working group more assistance will be given with regards to technical skills to achieve higher prices,” Mr Uon said.
According to Mr Uon, most farmers have limited knowledge when it comes to planting and harvesting techniques that can boost yields.
Chhiv Seangny, cashew farmer in Kampong Thom’s Santuk district, echoed a similar sentiment.
“With support from the government, we can increase production and farmers can learn new skills and knowledge,” Mr Seangny said.
He said the lack of processing facilities is one of the biggest issues hampering the industry.
“We depend heavily on middlemen because we don’t have factories. Middlemen take a big share of profits,” Mr Seangny added.
The lack of these facilities prompts most producers in the association to export their cashew nuts to Vietnam, Mr Uon said, adding that raw cashew nuts now sell for about $1.25 per kilogram.
The ministry recently reported that 170,000 hectares of land were dedicated to the cultivation of cashew nuts nationwide. Production last year rose 30 percent to reach 136,094 tonnes.
About 70 percent of that production, however, was exported in raw form.
20 percent was processed and then exported, while the remaining 10 percent was consumed locally, according to the ministry.
The same report says Vietnam continues to be the biggest market for Cambodian cashews.
The Ministry of Agriculture and the Vietnam Cashew Association signed an agreement last year in which they agreed to cooperate to bolster cashew nut production in Cambodia and reach 1 million tonnes a year.