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Cashew illustration photo
Last year proved to be a most fruitful year for the nut in terms of production volume and export value. According to the Vietnam Cashew Association (Vinacas), Vietnam produced a record 1.4 million tonnes of raw cashew nuts, 309,000 tonnes of which were exported, an increase of 16.9 per cent from a year earlier.
According to Tran Van Hoa, vice president at the Binh Phuoc Cashew Association, the country’s cashew production has only attained an annual average of 400,000 tonnes in recent years while the actual processing capacity can reach up to 1 million tonnes a year. Last year, Vietnam imported 769,000 tonnes of cashew nuts, a remarkable increase of 59 per cent compared to 2013.
“We still need to import 50-60 per cent of cashew nut volume at present. In order to change that fact, we must perform thorough research and development in cashew production and cashew by-products if we really want to survive in the industry given the context of severe competition with other countries, especially the up and coming African countries,” Hoa stressed.
Vietnam is one of the biggest producers of cashew nuts in the world, only after India and Cote D’Ivoire. However, in order to meet the demand of the local processing industry, Vietnam has to import a large quantity of cashew from the Africa and Cambodia. The import of raw cashews has stably increased for over 13 years. According to the Vietnam Trade Promotion Agency, the volume and value of cashew imports have boosted robustly 45 per cent and 33 per cent from 2000 to 2013, respectively.
Vietnamese cashew is being exported to over 50 countries around the world and the US remains the biggest market for the country with exports reported at 30 per cent, followed by the EU with 25 per cent and China with 20 per cent of the total export volume.
There are 21 provinces in Vietnam growing cashew plants with the total plantation area of 311,000 hectares and an average productivity of a tonne per hectare. Binh Phuoc province has the largest area of cashew plantation, with 135,000 hectares.
Vietnam has set a target to increase the productivity to 1.5-2 tonnes per hectare. However, it gets more complicated when it comes to allocating more land to grow cashew, therefore the country has chosen to improve the productivity. In order to sustainably develop the cashew plants, Vinacas has suggested keeping a stable plantation area of around 300,000 hectares as at present and an average yield of 1.5 tonnes per hectare.
Last year, Vinacas has coordinated with The Cotton and Cashew Council of Cote D’Ivoire to strike a win-win partnership. The two countries have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), in which Cote D’Ivoire would provide high quality raw cashew nuts to Vietnam. In contrast, Vietnam would let Cote D’Ivoire process about 20-30 per cent of its raw cashew nuts through transfer of technology of processors and other related assistance. Both countries have agreed on resolving issues on mutual benefits. Vietnam is also helping the neighboring Cambodia to increase productivity to ensure the continued supply of raw materials.
Through robust promotion of trade, quicker process of resolving business difficulties and elevated competitive advantage created via the enhancement of production and processing value, the Vietnamese cashew industry will strive for a $2.5 billion export in 2015. The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has also provided Vinacas an extra VND1 billion ($47,720) in subsidies to facilitate the grafting and rehabilitating of 100 production sites this year.