Vietnam expects to export no more than 150,000 tonnes of cashew nuts this year, down 48,000 tonnes against last year, according to the Vietnam Cashew Association (Vinacas).

Speaking at a conference in HCM City on Sept. 12, Vinacas chairman Nguyen Thai Hoc said raw cashew production this year had been about 300,000 tonnes, equal to last year.

As of August 31, enterprises imported 200,000 tonnes of raw cashew from Nigeria , Ghana , the Ivory Coast , Indonesia , and Cambodia , Hoc said, adding that about 30,000-40,000 tonnes will be imported from Africa this month.

Imports will cease in the fourth quarter of this year and the first quarter of next year due to high prices and low quality.

There is enough raw cashew for processing for export this year, but a shortage of 150,000-200,000 tonnes will occur in the first quarter of next year.

Hoc said the country exported more than 107,500 tonnes of cashew nuts, earning 857.17 million USD in the first eight months of the year.

That was a decline of 13 percent in volume but an increase of more than 25 percent in value year-on-year.

Cashew processors and exporters have faced many difficulties this year, including a shortage of capital and labourers and higher input costs, Hoc said.

Recently, many enterprises were forced to sell the nuts at lower prices to settle bank loans.

Hoc said Vinacas will send a petition to the State Bank of Vietnam to suggest the bank to extend loan term for enterprises by three months.

N. Ashok, director of the India-based Orion Commodities and Services Pvt.Ltd, a buyer of Vietnamese cashews, said similar to Vietnam , India 's cashew export volume this year is expected to be lower as well.

Cashew prices reached an all-time high this year.

"Despite the problems in the global economy, demand for cashew nuts has not gone down," he said.

The US imported less in May and June but consumption in the Middle East and some new markets increased in the first half of the year.

Currently, the volume held by buyers is lower than what they need in the next four months, he said.

A slightly upward trend for prices will be expected over that period.

Ashok also called on local companies to focus more on maintaining the nut's quality to ensure the Vietnam 's prestige as the world's largest cashew supplier./.