Cashew exporters are facing a shortage of capital and struggling to import enough raw materials to meet the industry's annual export target of 1.4–1.5 billion USD, said industry insiders.

Vice Chairman of the Vietnam Cashew Association (Vinacas) Nguyen Duc Thanh said exporters need roughly 400 million USD to import 400,000 tonnes of raw cashew.

However exporters are facing major difficulties because of world price hikes and high interest rates.

"The industry is confronting some unusual developments this year including a drying up of credit, high interest rates, and tough requirements for getting bank loans," said Thanh.

A tonne of raw cashew currently sets businesses back 1,400 USD, up 60-70 percent against last year, said Thanh, adding it is hard for cashew exporters to access bank loans because of interest rates that hovered around 21-25 percent per year.

Deputy Director of the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fishery Products Processing and Salt Industry Doan Xuan Hoa also admitted the cashew industry is facing tough times.

He called on Vinacas to monitor raw cashew and export prices and oversee the quality of cashew nuts, but added that there is a need to control export prices since incorrect forecasts could lead to needless stockpiling of cashew.

This will result in heavy losses, Hoa said.

Vinacas recently asked the Ministry of Finance to cut the cashew import tax from the current 5 percent to zero, saying that tax adjustment is needed to solve difficulties faced by domestic businesses.

Every year, the cashew businesses need about 700,000 tonnes of raw cashew for processing and export. However, domestic output meets less than half of this demand. Domestic cashew exporters therefore import raw cashew – mainly from Africa, Indonesia and Cambodia .

To minimise this dependence on imports, Vinacas has developed a plan to establish a 200,000ha cultivation area dedicated for cashews in southern Binh Phuoc province. If approved by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, this will lift the country's total cashew cultivation area to roughly 500,000ha./.