The Cashew nut Association of Cambodia (CAC) requested that relevant authorities speed up the implementation of a national cashew nut policy amid unfavourable weather conditions that experts predict will lower Cambodia’s overall cashew output for 2023.

CAC president Uon Silot said the weather conditions have become unfavourable as was predicted earlier this year. Rain storms and the overcast conditions that they bring can damage cashew buds and flowers.

Silot said CAC has now dropped its forecast for the harvest to between 500,000 and 700,000 tonnes of output for this year.

He explained that the weather conditions became unfavourable because the cold weather had been prolonged and it had rained in January-February, and the cloudy skies were damaging to cashew buds and flowers. Now the CAC worries that farmers will continue to cut down their cashew trees.

“This year’s prices were good at the beginning of the harvest season because the farmers produced less, so fresh cashew nuts were priced 5,000 to 6,200 riel [$1.25 to $1.50]. CAC cannot help them with wet cashew nuts, we can help with dry cashew nuts only,” he said.

“My association is yet to see any concrete action taken by relevant authorities in line with the national cashew nut policy. We want the relevant authorities to speed up the implementation of that policy.”

Pen Poseng, president of the Kampong Chhnang Cashew Nut Association, said this year’s crop of cashews seemed a bit better than last year’s, but the weather conditions remained problematic so this year’s harvest may end up being weaker than in 2022.

He added that cold weather is unfavourable for the cashews because they need hot weather to grow well. So the cold weather and the rainfall would lower the cashew nut output. However, he said the output could not still be predicted precisely because it depends on the farmers to grow the cashews and on the weather for the rest of the season.

“The year 2022 saw a lot of rainfall. This year the weather was hot most of the time until now. But this prolonged cold weather makes the cashews flower and bud at different times, so it takes longer for the cashews to be harvested. In addition to the weather problem, the costs of fertiliser and fuel have gone up, which are other problems facing the farmers,” he continued.

Poseng said his association had advised the farmers on some methods to reduce spending. He asked relevant institutions to push for the implementation of the national cashew nut policy because it offered help for cashew farmers and expanded markets.

On January 13, the government approved the draft version of the “National Policy on Cashew Nuts for 2022-2027” to develop inclusively competitive production and processing as well as ensure economic sustainability and diversification.

The cashew is a national economic mainstay for growth in the agriculture sector. At present, the cashew comes in third for most exported Cambodian product after rice and cassava. In its 2021-2022 report, the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries noted that cashews were grown on 405,991ha of land and production was at a total of 472,636 tonnes.