78,000 ha of cashew cut down in last five years
VietNamNet Bridge – Nearly 78,000 hectares of cashew have been cut down by farmers in the past five years to make room for cultivating other crops like rubber and pepper, which is ascribed to price instability, low yield and poor supporting policies from local relevant authorities, heard a web conference on Tuesday.
Speaking at the web conference of the Government last week, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Cao Duc Phat informed that over 10,000 hectares of cashew were cut down annually.
Phat attributed the lamentable situation to ineffective production, low yield and poor economic benefits of cashew compared to rubber and cassava farming, prompting local farmers to turn their back on cashew planting in many areas around the country. At the meeting, Phat called for farmers in the southwestern region and the Central Highlands to focus on replanting coffee and making intensive cashew farming.
Regarding cashew exports, a leader of the local agriculture industry told the meeting that Vietnam now was supplying 50% of global demand. The country has earned US$1.6 billion from cashew exports in 2013 while importing 650,000 tons of raw material from Africa in the context that only 300,000 tons was produced at home, meaning cashew exports have mainly relied on imports for local re-processing.
According to the Cultivation Department under the agriculture ministry, old trees aged 20 years or more account for over 24% of 330,000 hectares of cashew in the country.
Meanwhile, the Agricultural Planning Center under the Sub-National Institute of Agricultural Planning and Projection reported that up to 97-98% of households having old cashew trees have switched to planting other crops such as rubber and pepper to enjoy higher economic value.
The national average cashew yield was around one ton per hectare in 2005, which has fallen to 0.85 ton currently, the Institute of Agricultural Science for Southern Vietnam remarked. The profits brought in therefore stays at VND21 million per hectare annually while rubber farming generates a profit of up to VND62 million per hectare annually, which spells bad news for the cashew industry in the next few years.
“The agriculture ministry will next year make an effort to center on agricultural promotion and technical assistance targeting localities and ask them to instruct farmers to recover cashew farming and apply technical solutions to increase the crop’s yield,” Phat said.