Top Planning Japan Co Ltd is working with a local cashew nut processing business owner to set up a plant in Kampong Thom province’s southwestern Kampong Svay district in a bid to champion Cambodian finished products.
In Lai Huot, owner of the Madam Huot cashew nut processing cottage industry, told The Post on Monday that she had struck a deal with the company to build the plant, which broke ground last week and is scheduled to be completed in December.
She said the company received a cash deposit, for an undisclosed amount, and estimated that the plant would cost around $200,000.
“The Japanese company gave me a deposit and, putting in some of my own money, construction on the factory has begun.
“We signed a contract to supply the company with 90 tonnes of cashew nuts per year in the first phase,” Lai Huot said.
She said the deal came out of necessity as her business was unable to supply enough cashew nuts to fulfil the company’s orders.
Lai Huot is also the president of the Chey Sambor Cashew Nut Processing Handicraft Association, which has a membership of 33 families. The association grows cashew nuts on 344ha for exclusive domestic supply.
She said she plans to expand production to 150 tonnes per year to keep up with the high demand. “The factory will provide jobs for locals and unlock a cashew market for my community.”
Has Piseth, deputy director of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries’ Department of Agro-Industry, told The Post that the plant has the daily capacity to process two to three tonnes of cashew nuts and detach the peel from 10 tonnes of raw cashew kernels.
He said the factory is semi-automatic, with the dimensions of 20m by 30m.
“My department is doing its part – providing the cottage industry owner with technical and operational support in accordance with ISO standards to enable cashew nut products to be exported in compliance with customer standards,” Piseth said.
Following a Japan International Cooperation Agency- (Jica-) backed feasibility study on the investment, company official Tetsuo Murayama in October told Minister Veng Sakhon that results showed that Cambodian cashew nuts were tastier than their counterparts in Vietnam, India and throughout Africa.
Murayama said: “But factors such as quality, hygiene, potential yields and technological advancements in the harvesting and processing systems leave a lot to be desired.
“The company aims to set up a cashew nut processing plant in Cambodia that adheres to international standards, does its part in tidying up the industry’s shortcomings and takes concrete steps to lift potential output, quality and hygiene in the sector to global levels,” he said, as reported by the ministry.
In the first seven months of this year, Cambodia exported 194,525 tonnes of cashew nuts to Vietnam, Thailand, South Korea, Japan, Russia, China, Hong Kong and France, the ministry reported.