Nguyen Quang Binh
Employees of Binh Duong-based Nhat Huy Joint Stock Co process cashews for export. Domestic raw cashew production is unlikely to reach this year's target. — VNA/VNS Photo Dinh Hue
HCM CITY— Raw cashew production this year is likely to be just 300,000 tonnes, or far below the target of 380,000 tonnes, the Viet Nam Cashew Association has said.
Association members blamed the shortfall partially on unseasonable monsoon rains in major cashew-growing areas during the flowering period.
The advanced age of many cashew trees was another reason for the drop in output, which was above 380,000 tonnes in the previous two years, said Nguyen Anh Tuan, deputy director of the coffee and agricultural product quality assessment agency Cafecontrol.
The fall in output is a big headache for the cashew processing industry because its current production capacity is almost three times the output.
"We are at the very end of the harvest. Demand is going higher and higher. Processors in upcountry provinces are prepared to pay for dried raw cashew at VND40,000 (US$1.94) per kilo, VND5,000 higher than a month ago," said Nguyen Thai Hoc, chairman of VINACAS.
"To ensure the cashew export target of $1.5 billion this year — $400 million higher than last year — we have to import 450,000 tonnes of raw cashew from Nigeria, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Indonesia, and Cambodia," he said.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development said 126,000 tonnes of raw cashew were imported in the first half of this year.
This month, 10,000 tonnes have arrived in Cat Lai port in HCM City and are awaiting customs clearance while another 100,000 tonnes are en route to HCM City ports.
The average import price is $1,250-1,350 per tonne.
"Luckily, we could buy [large] volumes thanks to bartering rice for raw cashew with African countries at an earlier stage," Hoc said.
"Otherwise, we could have missed out due to tough competition in buying from India and Brazil, the two big producers and exporters after Viet Nam."
The biggest problem for VINACAS members was the very high bank interest rates of 22-24 per cent, an association official said.
To offset this, VINACAS has successfully lobbied the Ministry of Finance to reduce import tariffs on raw cashew from 5 per cent to 3 per cent from September.
The Ministry of Industry and Trade said Viet Nam exported 69,000 tonnes of cashew nut for nearly $520 million in the first half, nearly 15 per cent down year-on-year in terms of volume but up 22 per cent in value.
Since 2006, Viet Nam has been the world's biggest exporter of cashew nut. Last year, it exported around 190,000 tonnes for $1.14 billion, or more than half of the total global export.
The US, China and Europe were the largest importers of Vietnamese cahew nut.
In addition to the more than $1 billion revenue it brings in annually, the cashew industry has also contributed significantly to the Government's hunger eradication and poverty alleviation programmes by providing thousands of jobs in remote areas around the country. —VNS