Workers process cashew nuts for export (Photo: VNA)

HCM City (VNS/VNA) - Vietnam’s cashew industry would need to restructure production and processing in order to ensure enough raw materials for sustainable development, according to experts.

In a restructuring programme of the cashew industry, scientists have suggested that cashew growing regions with trees more than 20 years old needed to plant new varieties that were more productive and resistant to pests.

Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Nguyen Xuan Cuong said the restructuring of the cashew industry must be carried out comprehensively. Specifically, productivity must increase by 50 percent. The production process should be developed following organic standards

For increased cashew productivity, Nguyen Thanh Phuong, Deputy Director of the Agricultural Science Institute for Southern Coastal Central of Vietnam (ASISOV), said many varieties of cashews had been tested and trial production had resulted in high productivity.

These varieties had been recognised by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) and put on mass production. After five years of cultivation, output had reached more than 1.5 tonnes per ha with high quality, Phuong said.

The Vietnam Cashew Association has also asked MARD to cooperate with Cambodia to develop cashew production, providing raw material for the domestic processing industry.

The Cambodian Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fishery has approved a 500,000ha cashew area to be developed by a Vietnamese firm. The plantation is expected to supply one million tonnes of raw materials to Vietnamese enterprises each year.

In addition, the sector has also focused on intensive processing and improving the value of cashew nuts, while the Vietnam Cashew Association has been building an international brand for export purposes.

Cuong said the industry should apply scientific and technological advances for production to solve the impacts of bad weather on production.

Cashew processing enterprises have already formed a production chain in association with local authorities and cashew farmers under a co-operative model. This provided stability to all parties to develop the domestic and export markets.

According to MARD, the processing capacity of Vietnam’s cashew industry stood at 1.8 million tonnes of raw cashew per year, of which intensively-processed products accounted for about 20 percent of total exports.

This domestic supply of raw materials for processing is not enough so processors must import from African countries. However, some African countries are planning to process their own nuts to improve the value of their product.

Cuong said the local cashew industry had to import 70 percent of raw materials for processing.  

Vietnam has 480 cashew processing plants and 20 percent of them have intensive processing chains.

According to the Ministry of Industry and Trade, as of October 15 this year, cashew nut exports reached 286,000 tonnes, earning 2.7 billion USD, up 4.8 percent in volume but down 1.8 percent in value year on year.

The decline in value was partly due to a decrease of 5.8 percent in average export prices in the first nine months to 8,611 USD per tonne.

Vietnam’s cashew nuts have been exported to markets such as the US, China, the Netherlands, Germany and Canada.-VNS/VNA