Cambodia exported 213.41 tonnes of processed cashew nuts in the first quarter of 2022, up over 300 per cent year-on-year, while raw cashew nut exports declined by nearly 40 per cent.
The export figures for processed cashew nuts represent a significant rise of 311.83 per cent from the same period last year. Exports to China accounted for 123.38 tonnes, followed by Thailand at 76 tonnes, Japan with 12.10 tonnes and Taiwan at 1.93 tonnes.
Meanwhile, exports of raw cashew nuts declined, with 271,994.48 tonnes exported in the first quarter of the year, a decrease of 39.67 per cent. Vietnam was the key market for these exports, accounting for 271,980.90 tonnes, while China received 13.58 tonnes.
Cashew Nut Association of Cambodia (CAC) president Uon Silot attributed the increase in exports of processed cashew nuts to the association’s coordination of small- and medium-sized enterprises (SME), as well as its joint efforts with the agriculture and commerce ministries to attract foreign factory investment.
“The association has … asked the government to coordinate business and capital for existing SMEs in the Kingdom,” he said.
Silot noted that CAC members were currently drying cashew nuts for three companies who have put in orders, including 4,000 tonnes for Indian nut brand Ashapura, to be exported to the country starting in early May, 4,000 tonnes for US-based online distributor Olam, to be shipped to factories in Vietnam for packaging, and 2,000 tonnes worth of orders for food conglomerate Intersnack to export to factories in Vietnam, adding that the companies were starting to put in more orders.
In Lai Huot, owner of Kampong Thom-based Chey Sambor Cashew Nut Processing Handicrafts, said that last year, her enterprise exported a total of about 50 tonnes of processed cashew nuts to Japanese importers who, she said, “favoured quality standards”.
Lay Huot said the enterprise has been applying for Japanese certification, which would allow her business to export more processed cashew nuts to the country than in 2021.
“Japan is our enterprise partner. In the past, we were able to export due to [our] favourable implementation of quality standards. But this year, Japan requires us to have this certificate to be able to export further.
“Today, the agriculture ministry has helped a lot of enterprises to get this certificate to promote the export of processed cashew nuts over raw cashew nuts,” she said.
Silot said that the decline in cashew nut yields in the beginning of the year had been predicted by the association, which had warned its members that cashew nut harvests during that period could drop by “between 10 and 30 per cent”.
He said that climate change is a major and serious factor that has led to the decline in, and poor quality of cashew nut yields.
“One of its weak points is that cashew nuts need heat, not moisture and rain, during the flowering season. The warmer the weather – about 35-41 degrees Celsius – the better, as it can facilitate the emergence of flowers, and easy drying of seeds. Rain, during a time where flowers emerge, allows pests and fungal diseases to flourish, forcing farmers to continue spraying fertiliser, prices of which continue to rise,” he said.
In addition to declining yields, Silot said that prices had also fallen due to various agricultural issues such as farmers’ improper use of fertilisers, declining seed quality and a lack of processing plants, all of which have caused foreign traders to lower prices they are willing to pay for harvests.
He noted that the price of wet cashew nuts was 2,500-3,500 riel ($0.62-0.86) at the beginning of 2022 – a significant decline from 2021 prices, which ranged from 3,000-4,500 riel.
According to the CAC report, the harvest of raw cashew nuts in the last three years has increased steadily, with more than 60,000 tonnes harvested in 2019, over 950,000 tonnes in 2020 and topping 1,100,000 tonnes in 2021.