Cashew farmers and traders expect a bumper crop this year as the harvest season begins, following favorable weather conditions that have resulted in high yields at plantations in Ratanakkiri and Kompong Cham provinces.
Nguon Vannak, a cashew trader who sells his unprocessed cashews to Vietnam, said farmers in Kompong Cham have started harvesting 1 to 2 percent of their crop, and the harvest will get fully underway in about 10 days.
Mr. Vannak predicts yields will increase 20 to 30 percent on last year as a result of the cool weather towards the end of the year, which has left the soil moist and trees noticeably fuller.
“When I visited the plantations in Kompong Cham the trees were full of fruit,” he said.
According to the latest figures from the Ministry of Commerce, Cambodia exported 1,234 tons of cashews worth $547,141 in 2013, an 84 percent drop from the same period the year before.
Noch Chamroeun, a cashew nut trader in Ratanakkiri province, said the reason for the lowered output in 2013 was a lack of adequate rainfall in 2012.
“Cambodia’s cashew sector relies on rainfall, and not an irrigation system which is why sometimes, depending on the rainfall, the yield may be low.”
The vast majority of cashews grown in Cambodia are shipped in their shells over the border to Vietnam, the world’s largest cashew exporter, where they are shelled and roasted and exported to international markets.
In Ratanakkiri province, Kachanh commune chief Sun Pov said, farmers last year had harvested 700 to 800 kg on average per hectare with the price per kilogram at about $0.85. This year he expects the yield to be higher due to the more favorable weather conditions, with the price increasing to about 3,500 riel, or about $0.88.
Mr. Vannak said the price of unpeeled Kompong Cham cashews is higher than Ratanakkiri’s due to the flowers of the former producing larger fruit and better quality nuts.