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Cambodian Processed Cashew Nut Exports Triple, With Over 50% Going To China

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Cambodia's Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries recently reported that total processed cashew exports in the first quarter of the year exceeded 200 tonnes, up 312% year-on-year. Although unprocessed cashew nuts remained the mainstay of exports, with 271,994.48 tonnes exported, they fell by 39.67 per cent year-on-year. 


The report shows that Cambodia exported 213.41 tonnes of processed cashew nuts in the first quarter, including 123.38 tonnes to mainland China, 76 tonnes to Thailand, 12.1 tonnes to Japan and 1.93 tonnes to Taiwan. Cambodia exported 271,980.9 tonnes of unprocessed cashew nuts to Vietnam and 13.58 tonnes to China. Ensiro, chairman of the Cambodian Cashew Nut Association, pointed out that the increase in processed cashew nut exports was due to the association organising local small and medium enterprises and attracting foreign factory investment through the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries and the Ministry of Commerce. 



In recent years, Cambodia's cashew nut exports have maintained a high growth rate. In the last three years, Cambodia's unprocessed cashew nut production has grown significantly, with 60,000 tonnes in 2019, 950,000 tonnes in 2020 and 1.1 million tonnes in 2021. The vast majority of these are exported to Vietnam, through which they are processed and then re-exported to the world. Since last year the Cambodian government has begun to strongly encourage the development of local cashew nut processing enterprises and increase processed cashew nut exports, which are now showing greater economic benefits. 


Cambodian cashew nuts are becoming a strategic commodity after cassava and rice, said Ban Sok Weijer, Under-Secretary of State and spokesman for the Cambodian Ministry of Commerce. More and more local and foreign investors are turning to investing in cashew nut cultivation and setting up small-scale processing plants for direct export. The Cambodian Ministry of Commerce said a national cashew industry policy has been developed with the main aim of further promoting Cambodia's cashew industry, including attracting investment into cashew cultivation and processing. The new policy will also establish Cambodia as a major cashew nut producer and supplier in the region and globally, enhancing the competitiveness of Cambodian cashew nuts in terms of quantity and quality, and creating added value for the benefit of farmers. 


China is the first country to sign a bilateral free trade agreement with Cambodia, and the formalisation of the China-Cambodia FTA will have a knock-on effect on the Cambodian economy and attract more foreign direct investment to produce and process agricultural products for export to the huge Chinese market. Some industry analysts say that China will facilitate further market expansion for quality Cambodian cashew nuts. 


The Cambodian Cashew Association recently revealed that a Korean company, through World Share Cambodia, had visited the agricultural bureaus in Kratie, Stung Treng and Kampong Thom provinces to look into supporting and processing cashew projects. The hope is to set up a factory to pack and buy cashew nuts for export to South Korea and the USA. And earlier this year, the Japanese company YEBISS HOLDINGS proposed its project to invest in growing cashew nuts and establishing a cashew nut shell processing plant. Akira Taniguchi, director of the company, noted that it plans to invest in planting 1,000 hectares of cashew nuts in Preah Vihear province. He said that the main objectives of the project were to establish a cashew nut processing plant for export to Japan and other international markets, and to process cashew nut shells into "oil" to make bags, cups, straws and other items to replace environmentally damaging plastic products. 


Cambodia currently has cashew nut plantations in 10 provinces, covering a total area of over 500,000 hectares. According to the report of the Cashew Nut Association, Kampong Thom province has the largest cashew nut plantations with 90,959 hectares; Kratie 47,858 hectares, Rattanakiri 30,459 hectares, Kampong Cham 24,364 hectares, Siem Reap 22,305 hectares, Preah Vihear 16,971 hectares, Stung Treng 16,164 hectares, Tebun Kemun 8,334 hectares, Mondulkiri 5,676 hectares, Kampong Chhnang 2,123 hectares

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