HCM CITY — Cashew farmers in the country are facing a poor harvest due to bad weather and low prices because of low international demand.
In the south-eastern province of Bình Phước, the country’s largest producer of the nut, yields are down significantly after heavy rains during the flowering period in February affected fruiting.
Nguyễn Thị Min of Bù Đăng District’s Đắk Nhau Commune said two unseasonable spells of rain followed by prolonged hot weather when her cashew trees were blooming caused most flowers to dry and fall off.
Her harvest was insignificant this year, she said.
Bù Đăng District accounts for a third of the province’s cashew growing area at nearly 59,000ha.
Nguyễn Huy Long, head of the district Bureau of Agriculture and Rural Development, said the yield was expected to be low this year at just 1.1 tonnes per hectare.
In the Tây Nguyên (Central Highlands) province of Gia Lai, cashew is a key crop in border districts like Đức Cơ and Ia Grai and provides a reliable income for farmers, especially ethnic.
But this year there too the harvest has been poor because of the weather and diseases.
According to Phan Đình Thắm, head of the Ia Grai Bureau of Agriculture and Rural Development, the cashew yield depends largely on the weather, especially at the time of flowering.
Due to the unseasonable rains the yield is expected to be 20-30 per cent down from last year.
Ia Grai has 5,700ha under cashew and plans to maintain this area in the coming years.
In the southern province of Bà Rịa-Vũng Tàu, farmers have harvested this year’s cashew later than normal and the yield is 30-50 per cent down because of hoar frost, cold weather and infestation by mosquito bugs, according to local farmers.
Besides, farmers are also facing low prices since traders have reduced buying because of off-season rains, which means they cannot dry the nuts and their quality will decline.
Traders in Bình Phước have been buying fresh cashew at a price of VNĐ28,000 (US$1.2) per kilogramme, down VNĐ10,000 from last year.
Besides, cashew processors have also reduced purchases because of a fall in export demand due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
To improve farmers’ incomes, authorities in cashew growing provinces have instructed them to adopt intensive growing methods to improve yields and grow new high-quality varieties.
They have also strengthened support policies to help farmers replace unproductive plants.
The Bà Rịa-Vũng Tàu Department of Agriculture and Rural Development is working with the Southeastern Fruit Research Institute to create new strains to supply farmers.
It has organised training for farmers in disease management and advanced farming techniques.
Trần Xuân Khải, deputy head of the Gia Lai Sub-department of Plant Protection and Cultivation, said his agency had reviewed unproductive cashew areas and plans to switch to other suitable crops like fruits and medicinal plants there in consultation with farmers.
It would instruct farmers to grow 9,000-10,000ha of cashew using intensive methods.
Bình Phước Province has support policies to enable farmers to increase yields and set up co-operatives that link up with processors to produce high-quality cashew for exports.
It also helps processors build brand names, get soft loans and tie up with farmers to set up clean cashew growing areas. — VNS