Cambodia's cashew-nut exports increased sharply from 443 tonnes in 2011 to 4,453 tonnes last year, according to the Ministry of Commerce. But observers say these figures do not reflect reality, as a large percentage of exports had not been recorded.
An expert in cashew nut production, who asked not to be named, said yesterday: “About 60,000 tonnes of cashew nuts are produced in Cambodia annually, and only about 1,000 tonnes are processed locally. So where is the missing amount?”
But according to an International Finance Corporation (IFC) report on Cambodia’s cashew nut sub-sector released in 2011, it is difficult to ascertain production figures.
The report says Cambodia produ-ces an estimated 60,000 tonnes of in-shell cashew nuts annually.
“This makes Cambodia the 10th-largest cashew-nut producer in the world,” it says.
Chum Ry, president of the Cashew Nut Farmer Association in Kampong Thom province’s Santuk district, said 115 farmer associations represented about 8,000 hectares yielding 5,600 tonnes, with an estimated productivity rate of 700 kilograms a hectare.
“It is just a few hectares’ decrease from 2011, which is not affecting output in this province,” Soy Sona, the director of Ratanakkiri’s agricultural department, said.
“The area under cultivation dropped from 1,800 hectares in 2011 to 1,700 hectares in 2012.”
According to the IFC report, the prospects are good that Cambodia will become a recognised cashew-kernel exporter.
Until now, however, Cambodia’s cashew kernels have not been widely recognised on the world market because a large percentage of the country’s unprocessed cashews are shipped to Vietnam.
Kang Seak Hav, the owner of a 1,000-hectare cashew-nut farm in the Skun district of Kampong Cham province, said the absence of a local processing industry had been a major obstacle for farmers.