Cashew shortage to hit Vietnam exports until end of yearUpdate: 4/4/2018
Vietnam exported 215,000 tonnes of cashew nuts worth US$1.56 billion in the first eight months of the year, a year-on-year increase of 9.6% in volume and 22.6% in value, said Nguyen Duc Thanh, Vinacas chairman.
Cashew processors and exporters are faced with a severe raw material shortage, he said, adding that as much as 50% of small cashew processing plants in Binh Phuoc and Dong Nai were out of materials.
The price of raw nut materials remains very high, but export prices have not been good compared to the previous month, he said.
A tonne of raw nuts imported from Africa was priced at about US$1,000 earlier this year, but it is now at US$1,300-1,400.
In addition, the appreciation of the US dollar against the Vietnamese dong has been another disadvantage in importing raw materials as firms now have to pay more in exchange for the greenback, he said.
The association forecasts that export volume will drop in the remaining months of the year compared to the same period last year.
According to the Department of Crop Production, the area under cashew cultivation since 2005 shrank by 122,200 hectares, to 294,000 hectares in 2014.
In 2014, output was 345,000 tonnes, a 59,068-tonne rise from the previous year.
This met only about 35% of processors' demand. The country imports large quantities of raw cashews each year for processing.
Nguyen Van Hoa, the department's deputy head, said the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development had directed the cashew sector to enhance intensive farming and replant old cashew trees to improve productivity.
The main tasks in intensive farming include pruning off branches, use of fertilisers, irrigation and disease control.
By applying this method, productivity at many cashew garden models has significantly improved by 30-50%, he said.
With higher price of cashew nuts compared to the previous time, more and more farmers have been applying intensive farming methods.
But he said the use of intensive farming methods among farmers in the country remained modest. As a result, average cashew productivity remains low.
He asked agricultural extension offices to give more instruction to farmers in intensive cashew farming.
Localities should also improve management of cashew seedling production establishments, he added.