Vietnam is the leading supplier of cashew nuts to Europe. A part is locally consumed but also a large share is re-exported to other European countries. The Netherlands is an important importer of cashew nuts. However, cashew yields in Vietnam are decreasing and in order to meet demands substantial amounts of cashew are also imported. After processing these nuts are re-exported. Binh Phuoc province is known as the capital of the Vietnamese cashew industry, as its cashew nut output accounts for some 40 percent of the countrys total.
The income of many farmers depends completely on cashew harvests. The main problem is that the cashew trees in Binh Phuoc were all planted at the same time, being the end of the Vietnam War and are now reaching the end of their economic life-time. The farmers do not have the capital to invest in rejuvenating their orchards. Also a new plantation will only produce nuts after 6-7 years thus not providing income during this period. Another problem of the old plantations is that it is becoming more and more difficult to compete with other production regions on yield level as well as quality due to the lack of breeding and selection programs for new cashew varieties with better characteristics. Rejuvenation of the plantations is required for a sustainable production with an added value in a competitive market. According to the Vietnam Cashew Association (www.vinacs.com.vn) the province of Binh Phuoc has not yet reached a good "standard". Farmers are still using hundreds of different varieties, resulting in yield levels and quality that are below the potential as determined by the ecological conditions of the province. Also all actors in the cashew chain work individually without setting up a good cooperation in the chain. Dutch cashew importers urgently need a reliable sourcing system to guarantee traceability and supply of good quality cashew nuts.
A team of Wageningen University & Research experts together with Dutch and Vietnamese partners will in consultation with all stakeholders identify feasible approaches to identify and prioritize actions that will make the Vietnamese cashew production chain future-proof. This will be a basis for a follow-up project proposal for a 3-year project together with Dutch and Vietnamese SME companies (Intersnack, VGB, Fresh Studio, 3H nut company), Helicon and Rabobank Foundation and probably other companies.