HCM CITY – The sustainable development of the cashew industry will require replacement of old trees with high-quality seedlings, transfer of advanced farming techniques, and intercropping methods, the Department of Crop Production has said.
The national plan to improve cashew yields aims for a total cultivation area of 300,000ha, with average productivity of 1.5 tonne per hectare and annual total output of 450,000 tonnes by 2020, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.
The country also wants to double the ratio of fully processed nuts to 20 per cent, and process more cashew shells and wood to add product value.
The four provinces of Bình Phước, Đồng Nai, Bà Rịa-Vũng Tàu, and Bình Thuận are expected to remain the main cashew cultivation areas, with a combined growing area of 200,000ha, with average productivity of 2 tonnes per hectare.
Speaking at a seminar in HCM City on May 12, Nguyễn Văn Hòa, deputy head of the Department of Crop Production, said the cashew industry had increased export volume and value in recent years, and had created more jobs.
By using intensive farming techniques, including sufficient care, fertilisers and water, cashew farmers have gained 20-60 per cent higher productivity and efficiency.
To develop the industry in a sustainable manner, he said the industry should encourage farmers to use intensive cultivation methods to raise yields.
Older plants should be cut down and replaced with new plants, but this should occur gradually to ensure stable income, Hoà said.
Farmers should focus on planting new high-quality strains resistant to disease and climate change, he added.
Trần Công Khanh, director of the Cashew Research and Development Center, said the industry should encourage modern technologies and equipment to expand processing capacity, improve quality, and ensure hygiene and food safety.
He urged the Government to devise clear zoning plans for cashew cultivation and invest more in the development of high-quality strains.
Free trade agreements
Nguyễn Đức Thanh, chairman of the Việt Nam Cashew Association, said lower tariffs under free trade agreements, including the upcoming Trans-Pacific Partnership, would enable Vietnamese firms to increase exports to member countries.
However, to capitalise on opportunities brought from FTAs, domestic firms need to improve quality to meet strict hygiene and food safety regulations imposed by import markets, he said.
He said the Government should help cashew processors improve their technologies and encourage the establishment of large-scale cashew farming models.
According to the ministry, the area under cashew last year fell by 3,269ha over 2014 to 291,959ha, yielding a total output of 345,000 tonnes.
Last year, Việt Nam earned US$2.5 billion from cashew exports, an increase of 20.2 per cent over 2014.
In the first four months of the year, the country earned $688.6 million from exports of 91,000 tonnes of cashew nuts, a year-on-year increase of 7.7 per cent in volume and 14.6 per cent in value.
Vietnamese cashew nuts are available in 80 countries and territories, with the US, EU and China the largest buyers. -VNS