Cashew Price Spike at End of Harvest

The price of cashews rose sharply due to lower yield and higher demand from Vietnam as the cashew harvest season ended in May, agriculture officials and cashew traders said yesterday.

“The lack of cashew supply has brought the price of cashew nuts to a new high,” Srey Sopheap, a cashew trader in Kompong Cham province, said yesterday.

Ms Sopheap said the price of cashews increased from 3,500 riel in February to 4,300 rile per kilogram in May and that last year she had purchased cashews for as little as 2,800 riel per kilogram. Ms Sopheap blamed the price hike on last year’s cashew surplus, the replacement of some cashew trees plantations with rubber and a smaller harvest.

Sieng Pengsrieng, director of the Kompong Cham provincial commerce department, said that his province’s cashew yield had dropped by roughly a quarter over the last year, from 40,000 tons to 30,000 tons.

“The cashew trees this year did not produce as many cashews as they did last year,” Mr Pengsrieng said.

Heng Bun Yi, director of the Kompong Cham provincial agricultural department, said that roughly 25,000 hectares of land in his province is currently devoted to growing cashews but that only 7,155 hectares were harvested between February and May of this year, down from 11,155 last year. Barring unexpected problems, the remaining 17,845 hectares will be harvested in 2011.

According to Commerce Ministry Deputy Director-General Un Buntha, the decrease in harvested hectares in Kompong Cham was likely due in part to the introduction of a new variety of cashew tree that is supposed to yield more cashews, but that is, as of now, still not ready to be harvested.

“We would like to process the cashews locally but we do no have the equipment so we export many of them to Vietnam,” Mr Buntha said.

Commerce Ministry Secretary of State Mao Thora went further.

“Cashews would have no market if it they are not exported to Vietnam,” Mr Thora said.

Mr Thora pointed out that by importing 60,000 tons of cashews from Cambodia last year, Vietnam became the world’s second largest market for cashews behind only India.

   (Additional Reporting by Andrew Burmon)

 

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