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  • Collectives the answer to cashew challenges 03/10/2024

    Mar 10th, 2024

    At a time when Cambodia’s cashew crop is facing climate change-related challenges that have reduced its quality and profitability, a senior official has explained that the organisation of modern farming communities offers a solution to the problems of farmers. Im Rachna, spokesperson for the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, said on March 10 that the government, through the ministry, has designated cashews as a crop which has the potential to improve the livelihoods of the Kingdom’s farmers. It is also expected to make a major contribution to national economic growth. She acknowledged that just like other crops, the price of cashews fluctuated, depending on supply and demand. Cashew nuts are sold at different prices, according to size, quality and variety. She noted that they earn higher prices at the beginning of the harvesting season, but become less profitable when they are being harvested at the same time as the crops of other nations. “Different farmers make different profits, depending on many different factors. It can vary based on their cultivation techniques: the use of pesticides and fertilisers, or the care with which cashews are harvested, can all affect profits. Many of the issues farmers face are due to a lack of understanding of international markets and sales strategies that can be used to generate higher prices,” she explained. Rachna said that after identifying some of the challenges faced by farmers, the government has introduced the National Policy on Cashew Nuts for 2022-27, as well as the fifth and sixth of the government’s six priority programmes, which aim to assist them with technical training, loans for production and price protections, in addition to access to new markets. She added that the organisation of modern farming communities is a viable solution for farmers who need additional support. As part of its assistance package, the ministry has deployed agricultural specialists to farming communes around the country, who will teach “valuable” new skills to farmers. “We are doing what we said we would do. Of course, the more we do, the more potential for criticism we expose ourselves to. We welcome constructive criticism. The ministry is committed to learning and will adjust our methodology without backing down. All of our efforts are for the benefit of farmers, the agriculture sector and the nation,” she continued. Uon Silot, president of the Cashew nut Association of Cambodia (CAC), believes that the formation of modern collective farming communities is an excellent idea and will provide two major benefits to farmers. “If farmers are not united, they will lose two benefits. First, they will not get a chance to learn the latest techniques from agriculture specialists. This is because it would be inefficient for experts to teach each individual grower,” he said. “Second, they will miss out on large orders. When a big processing company needs a large amount of cashews, they do not go house to house, negotiating with individual farmers. They will only order from a community which is large enough to fulfil their complete order. For example, Japanese companies trust the Chey Sambor Cashew Nut Association in Kampong Thom province, because it can fill large orders,” he added. Silot explained that the CAC works with 45 cashew-producing communities in nine provinces. Through this cooperation, the association can assist with specific challenges, such as a lack of modern techniques, the correct use of fertiliser and climate change adaptation.