El Nino Blamed for Low Quality Cashew Nuts 

The El Nino weather phenomenon is damaging cashew nut crops. Photo provided by Uon Silot

PHNOM PENH – The El Nino weather phenomenon is damaging cashew nut crops with Cambodian Cashew Association (CCA) president Uon Silot  fearing that farmers may feel discouraged and cut down the trees.

Prices in some provinces have fallen since the beginning of January as cashews wither.

Provinces affected include Mondulkiri, Ratanakiri, Kampong Chhnang, Kampot and Koh Kong. The quality in Stung Treng and Kampong Thom has remained stable and the nuts can be sold at a high price. 

Fresh cashews can fetch 4,000 to nearly 6,000 riel per kilogram. “The yield is good, but because of the El Nino, the meat inside is not so good,” Silot said. 

“The harvests in January mostly contain damaged or disfigured nuts. So, if we take the damaged seeds to the processing plant, we will certainly lose. That’s why they lower the price based on the quality of the seeds that are distributed. 

El Nino can cause many natural risks, such as drought and heatwaves, which make it difficult for cashews to grow while allowing pests such as lice, worms and red spiders to destroy the produce.

Cashews have been hit hard by climate change in the last few years, reducing the average yield by 30 to 40 percent. This problem has discouraged farmers and they cut down the trees.

Cambodia has 472,946 hectares of cashew plantations and a total yield of just over 700,000 tonnes. 

Last year, Cambodia exported 656,000 tonnes of raw cashews, down 7.6 percent on the previous year. Income from sales amounted to $837 million, a decrease of about 16 percent. A total of 618,000 tonnes were exported to Vietnam.


Originally written in Khmer for ThmeyThmey, this article was translated by Torn Chanritheara for Cambodianess.

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