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Kampong Thom-based Cashew Plant Prepares for International Trade

by Surya Narayan
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A cashew nut processing facility in Kampong Thom province, Cambodia, has announced plans to expand its operations in order to increase its standard production capacity. The facility, known as Chey Sambo Cashew Nut Processing Handicraft, aims to export its products to international markets, including Canada, South Korea, Japan, and Thailand.

Established in 2019, Chey Sambo Cashew Nut Processing Handicraft is one of the few high-standard cashew nut processing facilities in Cambodia. Currently, Cambodia exports up to 90% of its raw cashew nuts to neighboring Vietnam. Inn Laihout, founder and Managing Director of the processing facility, expressed her ambition to promote and export Cambodian agricultural products to major markets around the world.

The facility collects cashews from over 100 farmer families, who cultivate the crop on more than 700 hectares of land in Kampong Thom province. In the coming year, Chey Sambo plans to expand its processing facility and increase production, with a target of exporting at least 1,500 tonnes of cashew nuts annually to international markets.

Since 2020, the facility has exported 70 tonnes of semi-finished cashew nuts to the Japanese market and approximately 30 tonnes for the local market. The exports were made under a contract with Japan-based Top Planning Japan Co Ltd. However, this year, the facility did not export dried cashew nuts to international markets due to delays in the paperwork process.

The most popular variety of cashew in Cambodia is the “M23,” known for its large-sized nut and desirable taste. Currently, the local market accounts for around 70% of the facility’s total product sales. Chey Sambo has been in negotiations with four companies and has sent samples to export its goods to Canada, South Korea, Japan, and Thailand.

In addition to its expansion plans, the facility owns approximately 15 hectares of cashew plantations and collects additional cashews from growers in Kampong Thom province and nearby Preah Vihear province. Chey Sambo aims to not only improve the livelihoods of local farmers but also collaborate with smaller processing facilities to increase overall export capacity.

The facility currently employs around 48 workers, with plans to recruit more laborers after the construction of a new facility next year. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Chey Sambo provided jobs for up to 150 local laborers who were negatively affected by the crisis. Furthermore, the facility focuses on supporting women in starting businesses and creating employment opportunities for women in the community.

Chey Sambo’s cashew nuts comply with food safety and management systems, organic processing standards, and quality standards set by Ecocert (NOP, JAS Organic, and EOS). The facility has received technical support from the Department of Agro-Industry within the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries regarding contract farming, processing standards, food quality and safety management systems, and organic standards.

In the first 10 months of 2023, Cambodia exported 61,500 tonnes of raw cashew nuts worth $831 million, mainly to Vietnam. The average price of dried cashew nuts was $1,658 per ton, with prices for October reaching $1,900 per ton.

Reach Ra, a Secretary of State at the Ministry of Commerce, expressed optimism about the cashew industry in Cambodia. From January to September 2023, Cambodia exported over 380,000 tonnes of dried cashew nuts to countries such as China, Japan, Bangladesh, Vietnam, and Thailand. Additionally, 56 tonnes of processed cashew nuts were exported to China, the Czech Republic, Japan, Korea, the Netherlands, Vietnam, Thailand, Taiwan, and the United States.

Cambodia has significant potential for the cashew industry, with an annual harvest of between 600,000 and 800,000 tonnes. In 2021, the country collected over one million tonnes of cashews. However, local processing capacity still remains limited. To further develop the industry, the Cambodian government is urged to support small processing facilities and explore new markets.

The facility’s expansion plans and commitment to supporting local farmers and women-owned businesses demonstrate its dedication to promoting Cambodia’s cashew industry on the global stage.

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