Cashew flowers ruined by bad weather and diseases in Binh Thuan province’s Bu Gia Map district (Photo: VNA)

HCM City (VNA) – Many farmers in the southern provinces of Binh Thuan, Binh Phuoc and Ba Ria – Vung Tau have been encountering difficulties due to a poor cashew crop caused by bad weather and plant diseases.

Nguyen Dinh Chuong, a farmer who has four hectares of cashew trees in Binh Phuoc’s Bu Dang district, said: “We harvested two to three tonnes of cashew nuts a year in the previous years. This year, when cashew prices have gone up to 40,000–45,000 VND per kilogramme, we have a poor crop.”

Many trees gave no fruits at all, he said.

Bu Dang has nearly 60,000ha under cashew, the largest in Binh Phuoc. But over 865ha have been damaged by insects while some other areas have suffered a long drought.

Ngo Van Tam, an experienced cashew grower in Binh Thuan province, said he harvested very little cashew from his two hectares of land this year, blaming it on untimely rains and white frost.

Binh Thuan has some 18,000ha under cashew, mainly in the districts of Duc Linh, Tanh Linh and Ham Tan.

With over 10,000ha, Duc Linh accounts for the largest cashew growing area in the province.

According to the Vietnam Cashew Association (Vinacas), in many areas farmers completely lost their cashew crop, while in other areas they harvested only 40-70 percent of the normal output.

This year total output has dropped by half.

Some 26,000 tonnes of cashew products were exported in the first two months, a 26.2 percent fall year-on-year. Earnings were down 12 percent to 232 million USD.

Nguyen Duc Thanh, chairman of Vinacas, said: “Cashew prices are on the rise in the world market, and higher than last year. Cashew nuts sell for 9.5 USD per kilogramme while unprocessed cashew sells for 1,800 USD per tonne. Cashew prices could increase further.”

According to Nguyen Van Lang, an expert on cashew, the country’s output is not enough for the processing companies and they import raw nuts from Ivory Coast.

Given the rising cashew prices and poor harvest, large volumes of raw cashew are likely to be imported this year.

Thanh said if this year local output dropped by 200,000 tonnes, processors would import 700,000-800,000 tonnes.-VNA