Vietnam ’s cashew export in 2013 will be the same as last year at about 220,000 tonnes, according to the Vietnam Cashew Association (Vinacas).

Speaking at a February 26 conference in HCM City , Nguyen Van Chieu, Vinacas deputy chairman, said enterprises exported 18,479 tonnes of cashew worth 109.7 million USD in January.

The shipments marked an increase of 52.86 percent in volume, but the average export price in January, 5,939 USD per tonne, saw a reduction of 20.5 percent over the same period last year, Chieu said.

The US, EU and China are the main importers of Vietnamese cashew products.

Delegates at the conference said farmers can enjoy a bumper crop this year if the rainy season begins early.

On the other hand, if the rains do not come soon, cashew flowers will fade, badly affecting the yield, said Le Quang Luyen, chairman of the Phuc An Company.

Pham Ngoc Khiem, representative of Donafood Dong Nai, said that he and other Vinacas members projected that the weather is likely to be favourable for cashew trees without diseases this year.

They made the forecast after visiting gardens in southern Dong Nai, Binh Phuoc and Binh Duong provinces, three major cashew-growing areas in the country, before the Tet (lunar New Year) holiday.

However, with the current hot weather, the cashew crop may end early this year due to a lack of water, he said.

Farmers in many provinces have started harvest cashew since early this month.

“Cashew quality this year has been very good, with a loss rate of 10-12 percent compared to 15 percent in previous years,” Khiem added.

Nguyen Duc Thanh, Vinacas chairman said the association will organise another field trip to the three key cashew cultivation provinces so that it can come up with more specific recommendations for the industry.

With local supply falling short of demand, enterprises will need to import about 400,000 tonnes of raw cashew from other countries to be processed for export, Vinacas deputy chairman Chien said.

Domestic enterprises imported 23,400 tonnes of raw cashew worth 24.3 million USD in January, up 64.5 percent in volume over the same period last year, mostly from Cambodia , Ivory Coast and other African countries.

However, Thanh said that enterprises faced many risks in importing raw cashew from African countries, especially regarding quality, because they had a lot of old cashew still in stock.

Managing the quality of imported raw cashew is very important, he said, adding that local enterprises must act together in carrying out this task.-VNA