Industry insiders expect a rosy future for the domestic cultivation and processing of cashew nuts, and more lucrative opportunities for exports down the line, driven by a national policy on the cash crop currently in preparation by the Ministry of Commerce.
On June 24, the ministry held one in a series of internal meetings to review and seek feedback on the draft National Policy on Cashew Nuts in Cambodia.
Ministry secretary of state and Cambodian Cashew Nut Policy Joint Working Group deputy chairman Reach Ra, who led the meeting, stressed the commercial potential of the commodity and the merits of ramping up supply to domestic and international markets.
The national policy would provide a great boost towards achieving the Kingdom’s ambitions to become a significant producer and exporter, he said. “The purpose of the draft national policy is to turn Cambodia into an important producer and supplier of cashew nut products to serve the local, regional and global markets.”
Try Kim Sreang, branch deputy chief of the Cashew Nut Association of Cambodia for Kampong Thom province, told The Post on June 27 that the cultivation area and number of households growing the crop has logged progressive gains, which will vastly accelerate once the national policy comes into effect.
Though admittedly unaware of the policy’s exact terms and conditions, he voiced confidence that the document would “greatly contribute to growers and the market as cashew products continue to grow”.
With the harvest season now over, the cashew-nut trade is limited to dried nuts, averaging around $1,700-1,800 per tonne in Kampong Thom, up slightly year-on-year, according to Kim Sreang.
In Lai Huot, owner of the Kampong Thom-based Chey Sambor Cashew Nut Processing Handicraft Association, said the crop’s strong market position had compelled her to study historical and present trends, and seek funds to expand the association’s monthly production capacity from 10 to 20 tonnes to meet the perceived growth in demand.
While profit margins may be somewhat slim, she expressed delight at merely being able to create jobs for the community, as well as growers.
“Profits are still very low, but I hope that when the international market orders more and more, all elements of the production system, from farmers to processors, will be better off,” Lai Huot said.
Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Veng Sakhon recently offered encouragement for farmers to look into developing partnerships that could provide access to new markets for their crops, as well as farming and processing techniques.
Effective product marketing will catalyse production, lead to increased revenues and bring new job opportunities, he said.
In 2020, the Kingdom exported 218,981 tonnes of cashew nuts, an increase of 8.24 per cent from 202,318 tonnes in 2019, the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries reported. Cashew nuts are exported to Vietnam, Japan, Russia, China, Hong Kong, Thailand, France, South Korea, Turkey and Bangladesh, Malaysia, the Netherlands and Laos.
In Cambodia today, there are more than 500,000ha of cashew plantations, with an average yield of 1.5 tonnes per hectare per year.