Cambodia exported 670,000 tonnes of cashew nuts in 2022, according to a report from the Cashew nut Association of Cambodia (CAC).
The export of raw cashew nuts to the international market reached 670,000 tonnes, valued at $1.077 billion, the report showed, a decrease of 34.65 per cent from the previous year in terms of tonnage. Vietnam topped the list of buyers, importing 660,000 tonnes, down 37 per cent.
CAC president Uon Silot said that in the last two years (2021 and 2022), the problems of extreme climate change and the rising prices of fertilisers, pesticides and fuels have made cashew farmers take losses.
He said extreme weather conditions have reduced cashew yields, noting that the yields they have had have been of low quality and cheaply priced. He added that farmers have cut down 100,000ha of cashew trees in the past two years, and as of the end of 2022, the total area under cashew cultivation was only 700,000ha.
“So far, if the weather is as good as it is today and as predicted by the Ministry of Water Resources and Meteorology, we can expect Cambodia to produce between 800,000 and one million tonnes of raw cashew nuts in 2023. As for the challenges ahead, our market remains volatile due to the lack of domestic [nut processing facilities], as we rely entirely on raw cashew exports,” he said.
Silot said the increase in the price of agricultural fertilisers and fuel is still having an impact that makes costs increase. He also pointed out the issue that farmers are not yet united and do not know the technique for drying cashew nuts and they lack finances, which leads them to sell fresh cashew nuts at the same cheap price.
Nok Bunthon, president of the Kampong Thom Cashew Association, said farmers in the province would begin collecting cashew nuts by the end of January, with the peak harvest in February.
“This year, the weather seems to be more favourable for the cashew crop, which will increase the harvest over last year. And the cashew nuts are also of good quality. The market is still volatile, depending on one trader: Vietnam. As prices go up or down, it depends on them. That’s why we want to set up more local processing plants to address this problem,” he said.
In Lai Huot, owner of Kampong Thom-based Chey Sambor Cashew Nut Processing Handicrafts, said the buying of cashew nuts from farmers in Kampong Thom and Preah Vihear in 2022 decreased due to weather conditions, which also reduced their quality.
“In 2022, our partners had a lot of procurement plans, but our enterprise did not successfully apply for the standard and at the same time the production and quality of cashews decreased due to the weather. The enterprise procured only 150 tonnes of cashew nuts from farmers,” she said.
However, according to Silot, cashew trees are sprouting up in the 2023 season one month faster than the 2021 season, and six weeks faster than last year. This rapid sprouting may be of benefit by allowing them to avoid the salty dew in mid-February, she said.