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  • Cashew nut processing competition pioneered to bolster local industry

    Apr 19th, 2024

    Under a fresh initiative supported by the Department of Agro-Industry, a subsidiary of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF), cashew farmers and processors nationwide will compete to win the top spot for local cashew nut production quality and capacity.

    The competition seeks to improve and promote local agro-industry entrepreneurs and their final products, falling in line with the government’s long-term policy to add value to the fledgling cashew nut sector. The one-month competition, starting on May 6, seeks to identify the best-processed cashew nuts in Cambodia, demonstrating both a high quality of final product and technical safety throughout the enterprise’s production cycle. Following the judging process, the top three enterprises will be chosen by a committee from the Department of Agro-industry and awarded prizes, along with other opportunities. The initiative, according to MAFF, should encourage more processing enterprises focused on the cashew nut sector and also encourage competitiveness between current suppliers within the local industry. According to the ministry, the cashew nut production and export sector faces ongoing challenges including limited price competition between suppliers, adherence to safety requirements and quality standard management, all of which the competition seeks to highlight and improve amid the private sector. Enterprises looking to join the competition may submit their application to the Department of Agro-industry starting from May 6, the committee is then responsible for reviewing the preliminary applications for the next stage of judging.

    Following the enterprise’s application acceptance, those selected will go to the assessment and evaluation stage. The initial judging will take place in Siem Reap province, including a first assessment of entrants which entails a half-hour presentation detailing the venture’s process and results, followed by a question-and-answer session with the judging panel.During the investigation, there will also be an onsite inspection of farms and processing facilities by the judges. The criteria being assessed in the competition include the management team and structure, infrastructure for the operations, raw cashew nut supplier linkage and control, processing handling standards and hygiene, packaging and labelling, market access and strategy, economic analysis and women’s encouragement and livelihood improvement.

    The final judging will then commence on May 24 in the capital city, Phnom Penh. Following another half-hour presentation by each enterprise reaching the final stage, along with the comprehensive findings by the judging panel throughout the month on each enterprise’s detailed operations, first, second and third places will then be decided and awarded to entrants. 

    The initiative seeks to add value to the Kingdom’s cashew nut industry, which is currently focused largely on the export of raw products, with only a small share of products having added value processing in the country.

    In 2023, Cambodia exported $837 million worth of raw cashew nuts, with over 90 percent of them being shipped to Vietnam for post-processing.

    This leaves only approximately 10 percent of nuts grown in Cambodia to be processed in Cambodia, to be sold locally or exported as final products.

    In 2022, 471,520 tonnes of raw cashew nuts were exported in total, with just 1,557 tonnes of them processed in Cambodia, according to MAFF reports.

    The competition also follows the rollout of the long-term National Policy on Cashew Nuts for 2022-2027 by the Ministry of Commerce in June of last year.

    The policy, supported by key stakeholders including the Cambodia Chamber of Commerce (CCC), the Cambodia Cashew Federation (CCF), the Cashew nut Association of Cambodia (CAC) and other private sector stakeholders, seeks to drive the development of the sector and establish the Kingdom as one of the world’s largest exporters of processed cashews.

    The policy aims to increase quality, along with competitive production output, by driving industrialisation and an increase in the export of finished, processed products – rather than raw cashews.

    Under the policy goals, a 25 percent growth in the cashew sector is expected by 2027 and 50 percent by 2032.