Vietnam: Top cashew-export title to be taken with grain of salt
Exporters and processors have said that though Vietnam is the world’s leading exporter, there are concerns over the loss causing low quality of raw cashews, high prices and labor shortages.Vietnam’s cashew exports in 2006 were the highest globally – at 130,000 tons, India following with 118,000 tons, heard an international conference on cashew quality in Florida last month.However, the cashew processing and exporting industry has proved unprofitable, racking up losses of VND1 trillion (over US$62.2 million) in 2005 and VND300 billion (nearly $18.7 million) in 2006.Experts in the industry predicted a break-even year this year, saying it would be tough for local cashew processors and exporters to continue to profit from the business and hold on to the leading exporter title.
CausesCashew quality suffers in Vietnam as purchasing agents, once they procure the nuts from farmers, soak them in water or inadvertently mix them with impurities to increase weight before they are sold for profit to processors.Processors, in turn require capital loans to purchase the crop at harvest time, buoying prices higher. With seasonal harvests, few factories can afford employing permanent laborers, thus pushing up the wages of part timers as competition to hire them bottlenecks.Nguyen Van Lang, general secretary of the Vietnam Cashew Association, said the total permanent employees of over 300,000 could only satisfy about 60 percent of factories’ capacity. The sector has called for cooperation and assistance from relevant authorities to maintain the top position. Source: thanhniennews.com