Cambodia exported about 660,000 tonnes of raw cashew nuts worth more than $1.077 billion to Vietnam in the first seven months of 2022, down by 350,000 tonnes or 34.65 per cent year-on-year, according to the head of the Cashew nut Association of Cambodia (CAC).

This means that one tonne of raw cashew nuts sold to Vietnam over the period had an average price tag in the range of $1,618-1,646.

The cashew (Anacardium occidentale) is a perennial cash crop that is widely grown in 10 major provinces, including Kampong Thom, Kratie, Preah Vihear, Kampong Cham and Tbong Khmum.

The quality and other parameters of the crop vary widely due to weather conditions – hotter and drier years tend to result in greater yields and quality. This year has seen a considerable amount of rains.

CAC president Uon Silot told The Post on August 15 that the revenue generated from the export of cashew nuts likely outstrips that of other profit crops such as rice, cassava and rubber.

However, without much in the way of processing facilities that match international standards, about 95 per cent of cashew nuts produced in Cambodia are exported raw to Vietnam, another two per cent or so are shipped raw to India, and the rest are processed locally for domestic and international consumption, he noted.

Silot attributed the decline in yields and exports this year not only to climatic factors, but also a host of issues confronting growers such as rising fertiliser prices and transportation costs,as well as a general lack of capital for investment.

The wholesale going-rate for raw cashew nuts is currently from $1,350-1,750, depending on quality, he said, adding that the area under cashew cultivation is roughly 7,000sq km.

In Lai Huot, owner of Chey Sambor Cashew Nut Processing Handicrafts based in Kampong Thom province, commented that cultivation has seemingly not gained the desired traction in recent years due to a lack of funds and limited number of large processing facilities which meet recognised standards, despite the acclaim that Cambodian cashew nuts have received for their quality and impeccable taste.

She voiced optimism that the upcoming National Policy on Cashew Nuts for 2022-2027 would boost investment in cultivation and processing, and hence create jobs for locals, drive up incomes for growers and processors, and curb the export of raw cashew nuts.

Key objectives of the national policy include reinforcing Cambodia’s capacity to grow, store, process, package, market, distribute and export cashew nuts and derived products, and establishing the Kingdom as a major producer and supplier regionally and beyond.

“I’d truly love to see more local processing, to avoid the export of raw materials. Local processing will also help improve the national image and economic growth,” Lai Huot said.

Ministry figures show that Cambodia exported 937,974.26 tonnes of cashew nuts last year worth a total of $1.60487 billion, up by 328.34 per cent by tonnage and 233.32 per cent by value over 2020.

This means that, on average, one tonne of cashew nuts exported in 2021 was worth $1,711, down 22.2 per cent year-on-year. Major markets included Vietnam, China, Thailand, India, Japan and South Korea, the ministry said.