A prominent local cashew nut enterprise’s processing and export capacity is expected to at least double by 2024 as Japan’s Mirarth Holdings Inc expresses interest in providing assistance with industrial machinery, according to the owner of the Kampong Thom-based business, In Lai Huot.
A Japanese delegation led by Mirarth CEO Kazuichi Shimada and senior officers at Top Planning Japan Co Ltd (TPJ) last week visited Chey Sambor Cashew Nut Processing Handicrafts, through the coordination of Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries officials, Lai Huot told The Post on May 28.
She stated that the purpose of the visit was to determine whether it would be feasible to build additional structures on the property of or nearby Chey Sambor and install two or three additional units of cashew nut processing machinery, on top of the two already supplied by TPJ.
The total monthly cashew nut processing capacity current stands at 60-100 tonnes, she affirmed, asserting that Mirarth’s machinery could create many new jobs and boost growers’ revenues.
Raw cashew nut quality has improved over 2022, with per-kilogramme prices now ranging from more than 3,000 riel ($0.73) to 4,000, up from just over 1,500 riel last year, she claimed.
“I expect Chey Sambor’s cashew nut processing capacity to double by next year with Mirarth Holding intending to add a few more machines,” she added.
The enterprise began exporting processed cashew nuts in 2021, shipping 30 tonnes that year and then 40 tonnes in 2022, she said, noting that no official consignments have been sent in 2023 due to the implementation of additional packaging and export requirements.
“Now that everything is ready, exports to Japan may resume in just over a month,” she stated, sharing that Chey Sambor currently employs about 100 workers. The enterprise is based in southwestern Kampong Thom province’s Kampong Svay district.
Cashew nut Association of Cambodia (CAC) president Uon Silot revealed that Mirarth plans to team up with TPJ to export the processed drupe seeds to Japan, South Korea, China and Europe.
“By working together, the two Japanese companies will be able to buy more fresh cashews from farmers and process them into premium cashew nuts for export. They will also be able to convert more cashew shells into high-quality fuel, creating added value,” he said.
Silot was referring to cashew nut shell liquid (CNSL), a by-product from industrial processing that can be converted into a renewable, biodegradable and cost-effective biofuel, which is considered to be a greener alternative to petro-diesel. The biofuel too is often called CNSL.
The CAC reported that Cambodia exported 670,000 tonnes of raw cashew nuts to the tune of $1.077 billion in 2022, a decrease of more than a third from the previous year in terms of tonnage. Notable importers included Vietnam, Japan and China – the first of which imported 660,000 tonnes, it said, adding that buyers elsewhere are looking into bringing Cambodian cashew nuts into their markets.
The area under cashew cultivation in Cambodia could drop by about 100,000ha to 700,000ha this year compared to 2022. About 95 per cent of the Kingdom’s raw cashew nuts are exported to Vietnam.
According to the CAC, the world produced about five million tonnes of raw cashew nuts in 2021, with Cambodia accounting for the most at 1.18 million tonnes or 24 per cent of the total, followed by the Ivory Coast (1.1M tonnes; 22%), India (0.8M tonnes; 16%) and Vietnam (0.399M tonnes; 8%), while others represented 1.52 million tonnes (30%).
However, in 2022, Cambodia yielded just over 0.69 million tonnes, a drop of over two-fifths that has largely been blamed on extreme weather events.