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Workers process cashews for export. Viet Nam targets to increase cashew exports to $1.2 billion per year by 2015 and $1.5 billion in 2020. —VNA/VNS Photo Dinh Hue

HCM CITY — The Viet Nam Cashew Association (Vinacas) yesterday was awarded the Certificate of Merit from Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung for its contribution in helping Viet Nam become the world’s top cashew nut exporter.Speaking at the ceremony, Nguyen Thai Hoc, chairman of Vinacas, said since its establishment Vinacas had developed the domestic cashew industry in line with the Government’s macro-economic orientation.

“The association and its members have achieved many good results, making significant contributions to the sustainable development of the domestic cashew industry,” Hoc said.

The association has 300 members and three branches, including the Long An Cashew Processing-Import and Export Association, the Binh Phuoc Cashew Association and the Binh Phuoc Farmers Association. In 2003, Vinacas was granted the Labour Order, 3rd class, from the State President.

With help from the government as well as industries and localities, the cashew industry in the last year improved significantly, particularly in production and processing, product diversification, market expansion and technology renewal.

As a result, the industry has brought an increasing amount of foreign currency revenue for the country, Hoc said.

“Significantly, although the world economy recovered slowly after the global economic crisis, the domestic cashew industry, unlike many other industries here, kept developing, with a record export value of estimated US$1 billion this year, 2.2 times higher than the target set for the year,” he added.

As a result, Viet Nam is now the world’s biggest cashew export earner, and the second biggest cashew producer, after India, which has had a century of producing cashews.

In addition, Viet Nam ranks third after India and the Cote d’Ivoire in productivity and output.

Outstanding achievements that Vinacas and the cashew industry have obtained since 1990 include: expanding the cashew cultivation area to 390,000 hectares, up by 2.1 times compared with the figure recorded in 2003; increasing the volume of cashew nuts exported this year to 180,000 tonnes, up 2.14 times compared with 83,000 tonnes in 2003; and increasing export value to $1 billion, up 3.5 times higher than $284 million in 2003.

Vinacas and its member companies, in cooperation with scientists, have also implemented many research projects that have helped create new cashew hybrids that give high yield and good quality.

In particular, BL1 and CH1 hybrids can yield between three and four tonnes per hectare while old hybrids could only generate 600 to 700 kilos per hectare.

Costs per cashew tree have also fallen, from VND10,000 to between VND2,000 and VND5,000.

Cashew processing techniques have been updated with automatic equipment, resulting in increased labour productivity that is 10 to 20 times higher than that from manual work.

“Proper application of green production technology has also been a main goal of the industry,” he said.

A representative of China-based Hai Phu Company said the company discovered Viet Nam’s quality cashew nuts in 1992 and decided to import them and sell in China.

“Vietnamese companies gave us active support in building the market. The first shipment to China was in March 1992, and four years later Vietnamese cashews were sold in many big provinces in China,” he said.

“Many more Chinese companies became involved in importing and the volume grew from 20,000 tonnes in 2003 to 50,000 tonnes in 2009,” he said.

China, the world’s most populous market, is a lucrative market for cashew products due to the use of the nut in its cuisine, he added.

Viet Nam’s first cashew shipments were transported to the US in 1994.

The volume of cashew exports continued to increase to 52,000 tonnes in 2009, with export value of $245 million, or 28 per cent of the Vietnamese industry’s total. The US is the largest importer of Vietnamese cashew.

The high quality of the Vietnamese cashew and exporters’ adherence to their contracts contributed to the success of the industry, speakers at the ceremony said.

In addition to the Certificate of Merit to Vinacas, more than 100 people from the cashew industry and other ministries and industries received medals from Vinacas honouring them for their assistance and service.

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