Cashew processing. (Photo: VNA)

The decline in cashew-growing lands in the Central Highlands region and the resulting short supply has forced a number of cashew processing firms to close over the past five years, according to the Central Highlands Steering Committee.

Dozens of cashew producers have gone out of business since 2010, leaving only 20 in the market to produce more than 55,000 tonnes of processed cashews annually.

Approximately 70,700 hectares of cashew cultivation areas remain in the region, down 20,000 hectares from 2011, including 12,000 hectares in Dak Lak province.

The decrease was due largely to the dramatic fall and prolonged instability of cashew nut prices alongside low yields of only 1-1.3 quintals per hectare.

Many cashew growers have switched to higher income crops. In Ea Sup district, where most of Dak Lak’s cashews were grown, 10,000 hectares of cashew have been cut down for rubber and paper-making wood over the past five years.

To reverse the trend, the Steering Committee asked authorities of Central Highlands provinces to help local cashew farmers shift to new high-yielding cashew varieties, such as PN1, AB29, AB05-08, ES-04 and EK-24, and apply advanced cultivation techniques to improve productivity.

Soft loans should also be provided for the farmers, the committee suggested.

In the first half of this year, the country shipped abroad 15,000 tonnes of cashew nut for 1.08 billion USD, showing increase of 14 percent and 28.2 percent, year on year, respectively.

Vietnam cashew products have been present in over 50 countries worldwide with the US, China and the Netherlands as the largest importers.

The dwindling cashew-growing area led cashew processors to import raw cashews, resulting in the instability in price and the quality of finished products for exports.-VNA