What is Xylella and which nut trees are affected?

A spreading disease among European olive trees could cost the economy over 20 billion euros, according to a recent study. The disease is caused by the bacterium Xylella fastidiosa, believed to be the most deadly plant pathogen in the world, and there is no cure. It showed up in an Italian olive orchard in 2013, but it also infects cherry, almond, and plum trees. Xylella makes it difficult for a tree to move water and nutrients, killing the tree. Sap-sucking insects spread the pathogen, making it very hard to control. It recently showed up in olive trees in Spain and Greece and has spread quickly up and down Italy. Farmers are fighting the disease by burning infected trees, but the researchers say the only effective way of stopping it will be producing a resistant tree.The Xylella fastidiosa bacteria, spread by insects, has been destroying almond trees around Spain, and can also be found in olive trees, apricot trees and grape vines.

The bacteria was first detected in El Castell de Guadalest, near Altea, in July 2017, and has since spread across 134,000 hectares, invading 76 municipalities in Marina Baixa, Marina Alta and El Comtat. The current strategy of the Ministry of Agriculture, in Valencia, is to quarantine and rip up thousands of trees where the bacteria is present, with 30,000 already uprooted.

The containment plan eradicates trees within 100 metres of an infected specimen, even if it is healthy, with many specialists believing this will destroy 20% of all trees in Alicante. Now an association of those affected, the AXFA, has hit back against the plans, insisting it will cause ‘irreparable damage to the environment, landscape and local economy’. “Tourism will be badly damaged and this could further hasten depopulation, which is already a problem in rural areas,” said a spokesman. Farmers in the association, who have not even been able to use the wood as fuel, have demanded that only infected trees be cut down.

Xylella fastidiosa is a xylem-limited, nutritionally fastidious bacterium that causes several plant diseases including Pierce’s disease (PD) in grape and leaf scorch in almond (ALS) and oleander (OLS). OLS strains belong to X. fastidiosa subsp. sandyi, PD strains belong to X. fastidiosa subsp. fastidiosa, and strains from almond designated as ALS strains are of two general types belonging either to X. fastidiosa subsp. multiplex or X. fastidiosa subsp. fastidiosa. The ALS strains assigned to X. fastidiosa subsp. multiplex belong to two different genotypes (ALSI and ALSII) below the subspecies level. The OLS strains do not infect grape or almond. PD strains produce diseases in grape, alfalfa, almond, and some weeds, but they do not infect oleander, oak, peach, or citrus. ALS strains that belong to X. fastidiosa subsp. multiplex do not produce disease on grape. In this study, a relatively simple polymerase chain reaction (PCR) based method was developed to distinguish among PD, OLS, and ALS strains. PCR performed with primers XF1968-L and XF1968-R amplified a 638-bp fragment from OLS strains but not from PD strains or ALS strains that belong to X. fastidiosa subsp. fastidiosa. PCR with primers XF2542-L and XF2542-R amplified a 412-bp fragment from PD strains, but not from OLS strains. PCR with primers ALM1 and ALM2 produced a fragment of 521 bp from strains isolated from almond that belong to X. fastidiosa subsp. multiplex. The combination of the three primer sets allowed the distinction of the two ALS genotypes of X. fastidiosa subsp. multiplex. These results are in agreement with those obtained from analysis of sequences of 16S-23S rDNA intergenic spacer regions sequence analysis and with previous results based on randomly amplified polymorphic DNA analysis.

Mozambique faces cashew industry disruptions

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Maputo — The Mozambican Association of Cashew Industries (AICAJU) has warned that less than 35,000 tonnes of cashew nuts will be processed in Mozambican factories this year, which is more than 33 per cent less than the 52,000 tonnes processed last year.

In a Monday press release, AICAJU notes that Mozambique has less than ten processing plants operating and some of these will stop processing in the middle of this year, probably in August, for lack of raw materials.

There has been a continuing decline in Mozambican cashew processing in recent years. AICAJU says that 60,000 tonnes of nuts were processed in 2018.

The Mozambican processing plants, says the release, “are operating in a particularly adverse context, in which the national industries face growing, aggressive and protected competition from international players such as India and Vietnam”. So far there has been no effective response by Mozambique “to this new paradigm”.

India last year increased its surtax on imported processed cashew kernels from 45 to 70 per cent. This, says AICAJU, “increased still further the purchasing power and the capacity to influence markets of India’s own industries”.

For, while Indian buyers are discouraged from buying the finished product from Mozambique, India continues to buy Mozambican raw, unprocessed nuts.

“The Asian processors can now buy in Mozambique raw material at inflated and unfair prices, distorting the market with a negative impact on Mozambican industry and, ultimately on the Mozambican state coffers”, the release protested. In other words, Mozambican industries find it difficult to sell cashew kernels to the Indian market, while the Indian industries snap up thousands of tonnes of raw nuts from Mozambican farmers, at prices the Mozambican processing factories cannot compete with.

On top of this has come the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. The price of cashew kernels has fallen by more than 15 per cent since the start of the Covid-19 crisis, and by 25 per cent when compared with last year’s prices.

Nonetheless, AICAJU declared its confidence in the measures the Mozambican government is taking and believes that “through discussions between the state, the private industry and the cashew producers, it will be possible to implement measures in good time to defend the sector, which will allow a cashew campaign in 2020 that is fair for all the stakeholders”.

AICAJU also called on the government to provide support for farmers to develop the cashew orchard, “otherwise production will suffer a sharp decline, with a resulting impact on the income of more than 1.4 million households that are dependent on cashew nuts”.

2020 Australian macadamia crop on track

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The 2020 Australian macadamia crop remains on track to reach the forecast 36,500 tonnes in-shell at 3.5% moisture (39,000 tonnes at 10% moisture), announced the industry’s peak body, the Australian Macadamia Society (AMS) today.

Harvest started slightly later this year, but is now well progressed in all growing regions, reports the AMS.

“Harvest conditions have been largely favourable, and kernel recoveries are increasing, which is to be expected at this stage of the season,” says AMS CEO Jolyon Burnett. 

Mr. Burnett said the Australian macadamia industry has adapted to restrictions presented by Covid-19 and in doing so has been able to continue its operations during the pandemic.

“Processing and shipping of the new season crop is underway.”

The latest Australian macadamia industry crop estimate is based on forecast intake provided by the Australian Macadamia Handlers Association (AMHA) to the end of April.

The AMHA represents 97.5% of production in Australia.

Further crop reports will be provided in July and September, and the final figure for the 2020 crop will be announced by the AMS in early December.

For further information contact:
Lynne Ziehlke
Market Development Manager Australian Macadamias
Phone: +61 488 032 248 or 1800 262 426 (Aust) or +61 2 6622 4933

Prunes the perfect companion in meat-plant blends, says California Prune Board

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Blending meat and plant-based ingredients in products like burgers continues to gain traction for food producers, as consumers unwilling to give up meat entirely experiment with foods that combine red meat, poultry or fish with a range of plant-based ingredients like mushrooms, sweet potatoes, or dried fruit. 

A number of companies are blending meat and plant-based products amidst growing popularity for the category. The California Prune Board, which works globally to raise awareness of the sunshine state’s premium prune industry, is keen to highlight prunes as a viable inclusion for manufacturers looking for high quality, plant-based ingredients, which won’t compromise the taste or texture of the meat-plant blend. The nutritional benefits of California Prunes are also a potential lever for consumer buy-in, with just three prunes equivalent to one of the recommended ‘five a day’.

California Prunes contain sorbitol, a natural humectant, which can help add moisture to a range of dishes. Research[1], conducted for the California Prune Board at the University of Arkansas-Fayetteville Food Science Department, Kansas State University and Texas A&M University, and other centres, has also demonstrated how prunes can be a useful ingredient for food producers in meat products.  As a natural phosphate replacer for example, California Prunes can help improve moisture content, extend shelf life and help produce a higher yield. 

Kevin Verbruggen, European Marketing Director for the California Prune Board, says: “Research from the California Prune Board has shown prunes are an ideal functional ingredient to include when experimenting with meat-plant blends because of their succulent properties, their fibrous texture and their fantastic nutritional profile.”

Registered dietitian and nutritionist, Jennette Higgs, believes prunes can play an important role in achieving a balanced diet and healthy lifestyle and are an ideal solution for use by food producers. She says: “Prunes are free of salt, fat and saturated fat, and contain only naturally occurring sugars.  They are high in vitamin K and manganese, which contributes to the maintenance of normal bones, and 100g daily can contribute to normal bowel function. They are also high in fibre and potassium and a source of vitamin B6 and copper.” 

Kevin adds: “California Prunes are renowned for their flavour and texture-enhancing qualities and pair brilliantly with meat. Packed full of fibre and other nutrients, California Prunes can also help food manufacturers appeal to health-conscious consumers.”   

Peter Sidwell, chef, author and founder of the Keswick Cookery School, has created a delicious meat-plant blend recipe, which swaps out a portion of meat in favour of succulent California Prunes and tasty cashews. Discover the recipe here:https://www.californiaprunes.co.uk/recipes/asian-meatballs-with-korean-noodles-and-spring-onions/

Azerbaijan to develop hazelnut sector

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The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), together with the Ministry of Agriculture of Azerbaijan, has designed a project on developing the country’s hazelnut sector, Head of FAO’s Partnership and Liaision Office in Azerbaijan Melek Cakmak told Trend.

“The project has been launched since January 2020 within a partnership program between FAO and Azerbaijan. The project will be implemented during three years. Its main objective is to increase the production of hazelnuts and ensure sustainable development of the industry and thus, lead to an increase in the income of small farmers, ensure food and nutrition security, help to reduce poverty in rural areas by creating jobs and self-employment opportunities in the regions,” she said.

“Hazelnuts are one of the most profitable agricultural products in the country. Azerbaijan is one of the five largest producers of hazelnuts in the world. In recent years, the government has provided significant support and benefits to farmers, and the area planted with hazelnuts is increasing every year. However, yields remain low (1.2 tons per hectare), and unsustainable farming methods are often used during cultivation,” Chakmak noted.

“Another goal of the project is to increase the hazelnut production by introducing modern technologies and enabling small farmers to apply advanced agricultural experience to improve the quality of nuts. The project will also expand the capacity of state institutions on establishing relationships with private sector,” she said.

“All activities are aimed at increasing the potential of entrepreneurs. Following the project, initiatives will be launched to ensure sustainable production, marketing chain will be assessed, and knowledge and skills of farmers in the sustainable cultivation of hazelnuts, processing and safe storage after harvesting will be enhanced,” Chakmak emphasized.

In November 2016, the Food and Agriculture Organization and the government of Azerbaijan signed a partnership program for 2016-2020.
Reported by trend News Agency

India: Odisha Cashew Processors urged government to announce a special package for the cashew industry

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By Express News Service
JEYPORE: The Odisha Cashew Processors Association has urged Union Minister of State for MSME Pratap Sarangi to announce a special package for the cashew industry, hit hard by the lockdown. Around 50 owners of cashew processing units from the State interacted with the Minister during a webinar on Friday. They said the lockdown has come as a severe jolt for the industry, which has been suffering huge losses for the last two years, due to an epidemic. Stressing the need for a special cashew marketing policy, they urged the Minister to revive the food processing units.

They appealed Sarangi to provide them interest free loans, relaxation on electricity, water tariffs and GST. The Minister said the Centre has been emphasising revamp of MSME industries across the country and assured to look into their demands. Around 1,20,000 cashew is produced by as many as 400 processing units in the State. General Secretary of Odisha Cashew Processors Association Monasis Panda said over 5 lakh workers, growers and processors have been hit hard by cash crisis and the lockdown across the country.

The Odisha Cashew Processors Association (OCPA) was started in the year 1997-98. In the past 18 years, OCPA has done tremendous work for the Cashew Sector in the state Odisha. The state of Odisha is the third largest state for Cashew cultivation, production & processing. As on date, Odisha has 1.68 lakh Hectares under Cashew plantation, which is around 16% of India’s cashew acreage. Odisha produces around 100,000 metric tonnes of Raw Cashew Nuts (RCN) per annum, which is around 13.6% of India’s RCN production. Today, Odisha has around 350 Cashew processing units, which are mostly located in remote places of Odisha and are mostly in Micro, Tiny & Small Scale Industries. The Industry processes around 1.25 lakh metric tonnes RCN per year. To meet the RCN requirements, the industry is Importing it from different African Countries like Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Benin, Ghana, Ginea Bissau, Tanzania and Mozambique.

In all these year. OCPA is working with the state Government in all respect to popularize Govt. policies, incentives, subsidies and other Govt. mandatory rules regulations of the State as well as Centre. OCPA has also created a very good standing of the state ODISHA through attending different state, national & international level Seminars mostly happening every year in Bhubaneshwar, Kerala, Goa & Karnataka. OCPA members attend in good numbers different Seminars to learn more & more. Odisha cashew sector generates more than Rs.900 crores from Raw Cashew production and with value addition it becomes approximately Rs. 1250 Crores every Year. Being agro based & labor intensive, the Odisha cashew industry generates more than 88 lakh mendays or every day livelihood to around 32,000 rural poor women mostly living in remote village areas for the entire year, who are having no work other than the agricultural activities only in paddy season.

Rightly, the Govt. of India & also Odisha State are giving stress to the development of the sector. OCPA had started a cashew processing certificate course to create skilled manpower & employment, in Govt. ITI, Berhampur, Ganjam jointly with Industry Department of Odisha State Govt. on PPP mode. This is the first-of-its-kind programme in the world & created history, where already two batches have passed out successfully.

The state Odisha is situated in the east coast of India with 10 climatic zones, 482 Km of coastal line (Bay of Bengal), rich forest areas, mountains, good number of rivers, underground mines of Iron Ore, Coal, Bauxite etc. Also it has world famous monuments like Konark, Lord Jagannath temple and lake Chilika, the second largest lagoon in the world and is a good tourist destination. Odisha stands third in Cashew cultivation, production and processing in India, claiming 16% of land under cashew cultivation area at 1.68 Lakh hectares and producing 1,00,000 MT of Raw Cashew Nut (13.6% of India’s Raw Cashew Nut production). As on date, there are more than 350 cashew processing industries processing approximately 1,25,000 metric tonnes of Raw Cashew Nuts, thus generating 35,000 employment opportunities every day.

The economy of Odisha cashew sector: Raw Cashew Nut sector generates an annual revenue of Rs 950 crores. Converting raw cashews into kernels by processing earns an additional value of more than Rs 250 crores. Hence, Odisha cashew sector generates approximately Rs 1200 crores every year. The average RCN yield per hectare in Odisha is 680 kg per hectare which is lower than national and international average. Therefore, the appropriate and timely steps such as gap filling of old and senile orchards, planting of new hybrid varieties in waste and fallow lands and new variety of grafted plants need to taken on war footing to boost Odisha’s economy so also to generate future employment along with environmental point of view.

Odisha is the third largest producer, processor of cashew in India. Despite that, the state is unable to export a single kilogram of Cashew Kernels. Hence it becomes the moral responsibility of every stakeholder of the entire cashew value chain, including the concerned State Govt. departments to look into the sector seriously to achieve the goal, for the best interest of the farmers and the economy..

The major advantages in Odisha state are vast waste lands for future cashew plantation, favorable climatic conditions, self sufficient energy management, good connectivity such as rail, road, air and port and availability of rural women force and raw cashew nut.

The major drawbacks in the state are (a) Lack of proper policy of raw cashew distribution to the processing Industries, and (b) Inadequate finance to cashew units by Banks or financial Institutions. In addition to this, lack of awareness and latest technical know how of the technologies, lack of proper grading as per CEPCI, lack of proper packing for exports, lack of commission agents for marketing of cashew kernels and lack of infrastructure facilities and Govt. support for export from the state.

Odisha State has a bright future for both cashew plantations and processing. Together with the government, the cashew industry in Odisha can reap the benefits.

10,000 t cashew processing unit is shipping

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West Africa-focussed agriculture company Dekel Agri-Vision updated the market on the development of its 10,000 tonnes per annum raw cashew nut processing project at Tiebissou in Côte d’Ivoire on Thursday. The AIM-traded firm said the entire shipment from China, consisting of 32 containers of infrastructure equipment for the construction of the project, has now departed.

It said the shipment was expected to arrive at the port of Abidjan in Côte d’Ivoire in early July. This shipment of infrastructure equipment from China followed the restart of the manufacture of milling equipment in Italy, which had been suspended for a number of weeks as a result of the Covid-19 coronavirus outbreak in the country.

Together with groundworks continuing at the site in Tiebissou, with “minimal disruption”, Dekel said it still expected the mill to be commissioned by April 2021. “The shipment of infrastructure equipment from China is another positive step towards the construction of our large-scale cashew processing operation at Tiebissou,” said executive director Lincoln Moore.

“There was undoubtedly going to be delays due to Covid-19, so we are pleased to see activity resuming in good time, not just in China but also in Italy where the mill equipment is being manufactured. “I look forward to providing further updates on the project’s progress as we focus on having the mill operational in the first half of 2021 and in the process, adding a second producing project and a second revenue stream to our portfolio.”

At 1209 BST, shares in Dekel Agri-Vision were up 1.82% at 2.24p.

California Almonds off to the next record crop

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NASS announced 2020 Almond Subjective Forecast at 3.0 Billion pounds. The forecast is based on 1.26 million acres producing an average of 2,380 pounds per acre. The forecast is at 10.2% higher yield than 2019. This puts total production up 17.6%.

This forecast comes about three weeks after USDA-NASS released the 2019 California Almond Acreage Report, which estimated total almond acreage for 2019 up 10% from 2018 at 1.53 million acres. Bearing acres – orchards mature enough to produce a crop – were reported at 1.18 million acres, up 8% from the previous year. USDA-NASS also estimated preliminary bearing acreage for 2020 at 1.26 million acres.

“Almond acreage and production continue to increase as California almond growers further invest in precision agriculture and responsible best practices,” said Almond Board of California (ABC) President and CEO Richard Waycott. “Through the industry’s advancements in water use efficiency to environmentally friendly pest management, zero waste efforts in the orchard and beyond, almond growers are committed to achieving our Almond Orchard 2025 Goals and the realization of the California almond orchard of the future.”

The first of two production reports for the upcoming crop year, the subjective forecast is based on opinions obtained from randomly selected almond growers located throughout the state via a phone survey, this year conducted from April 20 to May 6. USDA-NASS asks individual growers to indicate their total almond yield per acre from last year and expected yield for the current year based on field observations. The sample of growers interviewed is grouped by size of operation, and different individuals are interviewed each year to ensure grower representation throughout the Central Valley. USDA-NASS then combines the yield estimates obtained from each grower and extrapolates the information to arrive at the numbers reported in the subjective forecast.

This July, USDA-NASS will release its second production estimate, the 2020 California Almond Objective Report. While the subjective forecast provides an initial estimate of the 2020-2021 crop, the objective report will provide an estimate based on actual almond counts that uses a more statistically rigorous methodology to determine yield.

In December, ABC’s Board of Directors approved a strategic approach to further improve the accuracy of USDA-NASS’s reporting. From 2020 on, the objective report will include measurements from 1,000 target orchards throughout the state (an increase of 150 samples from 2019) and provide nuts counts on not one but two branches per tree. The objective report will also provide the weight, size and grade of the average almond sample broken down by growing region – no longer growing district – and variety. The 2020 California Almond Objective Report will be released July 7.

  • Crop receipts to date are 2.533 billion pounds
  • Sales for April 2019: 145,937.852 è 21.1 million pounds more than 2020
  • Projected Sales based on data to date around 2.44 billion pounds
  • Carry over based on data to date around 370 million pounds

Blue Diamond Growers expands processing capacity

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SACRAMENTO, CA – Blue Diamond Growers, a nonprofit grower-owned cooperative and the world’s leading processor and marketer of almonds, marked its 110-year anniversary today with announcements about the completion of two key infrastructure expansions.

The company also was recently recognized by Boston Consulting Group & IRI as one of the Top 10 Fastest Growing Mid-Size CPGs for the fourth consecutive year.

As part of Blue Diamond’s® long-range strategic vision, two major expansions at the co-op’s facilities in the heart of California’s Central Valley almond growing region, have been completed or are nearing completion this month. Groundbreaking ceremonies for both projects were held last year. The first expansion is a 52,000 square foot addition to the existing 200,000 square foot Turlock manufacturing plant that first opened in 2013 and sits on 88 acres. In 2014, Food Engineering Magazine recognized the Turlock facility as Plant of the Year for innovation, manufacturing excellence and sustainable operations. Construction completed on the new building last week expands Blue Diamond’s value- added almond processing capabilities with an automated factory that features state-of-the art handling, processing and packaging equipment. This expansion also provides space for a future manufacturing line to support current business or new innovations.

The second expansion is the new Bulk 8 Warehouse at the Salida facility that originally opened as an almond receiving station in 1969. Today the 675,000 square foot facility sits on 44 acres and includes a retail Nut & Gift Shop. The new 58,000 square foot bulk storage facility is on schedule to be completed by the end of May providing an additional 50 million pounds of in-house bulk almond storage capacity in time to receive the 2020 almond harvest. The 65-foot-tall building includes advanced design with an automated gravity fed spiral conveyance system that improves grower delivery efficiency and reduces damage to the almonds.

“It is particularly meaningful for Blue Diamond to be able to commemorate our Founders Day today by not only recognizing our humble beginnings 110 years ago, but also celebrating two key growth milestones that help secure our future,” said Mark Jansen, President and CEO for Blue Diamond Growers. “I couldn’t be more proud that, despite the unprecedented challenges businesses around the world have faced over the past two months, our incredible team has been able to sustain operations as an essential food supplier, while completing these critical expansion projects ahead of schedule to meet customer needs.“

“When we opened each of Blue Diamond’s three main facilities, we made a commitment to invest in our infrastructure, in our workforce, and in the individual communities where our employees and almond growers live and work. Throughout the year, we support local nonprofits through our community grants, sponsorships, employee volunteerism and product donations. During yesterday’s global Giving Tuesday Now effort I’m thrilled to report that Blue Diamond, along with partners Union Pacific and Sun-Maid Growers of California, committed to a donation match of $50,000 to help support three food banks in northern and central California that are struggling to meet significant demand from local families in need.”

Blue Diamond Growers was founded by a handful of California almond growers on May 6, 1910. Originally known as the California Almond Growers Exchange, the grower-owned cooperative quickly grew into the world leader in growing, processing and marketing almonds and almond ingredients. In 1914, the Exchange opened a new receiving and packaging plant in Sacramento, California, that eventually became the largest almond processing plant in the world. Today, the Sacramento plant sits on 90 acres, covering 33 city blocks and serves at the cooperative’s headquarters. In 1915, the co-op adopted the symbol of a blue diamond – the finest grade of diamond in the world – to signify its commitment to quality and in 1980, the cooperative’s name was officially changed to Blue Diamond Growers.

California produces 80% of the world’s almond supply and almonds are the state’s largest food export item. Blue Diamond Growers’ 3,000 members account for roughly half of the state’s almond producers.

A wonderful product instead of food waste

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Fludor-Benin uses cashew nut shells as a balm, a liquid that the paint and aeronautics industries thrive on. In addition to the added value it generates, this activity helps to reduce the pollution caused by the presence of cashew nut shells in nature. Such waste is harmful to the soil and the atmosphere.

Benin is Africa’s largest cashew nut producer, with more than 100,000 tonnes generated in 2019. Except that until now, only the almond, the edible part of the nut, was extracted and exported, mainly to India. The shells of the nuts, on the other hand, had no use. They were either destroyed or discarded in the wild. The cashew waste contains acidic oil, which is harmful to the soil and the atmosphere. The new production line in Fludor-Benin addresses this problem of environmental pollution.

“There is 20 percent cashew balm in the cashew shell, which is still significant. Burning them in the open air or burying them is very bad for the soil, and for the atmosphere. Transforming cashew shells into balm requires a technology that is not very easy to master,” said Roland Riboux, Fludor’s CEO. He adds that his company is the only one in West Africa to create this value.

A daily production of 10 tons of cashew balm

Fludor began production of cashew balm in 2019. It obtains its shells from other cashew processing companies based in Benin. “Currently, we produce 10 tonnes of oil a day, so we need 30 to 40 tonnes of shells for that. Our goal is to take all the cashews from Benin. We export to India, Japan, China, where industries using cashew balm are developing,” said Vinod Kumar, an engineer in Fludor-Benin.

Indeed, the brown resin or liquid contained in the cashew nut shell is sometimes used to make inks, varnishes to protect against insect pests or as a waterproofing, insecticide or vehicle friction elements for brakes and clutches. Cashew oil is of great importance in the paint industry in particular, being used in the composition of anti-rust or gloss paints. It is also used in aeronautics, as a hydrocarbon in aviation.

Located in the south of Benin, two hours drive from Cotonou, the capital of this West African country, Fludor-Benin is a limited company promoted by the TGI Group based in Ireland and operating both in West Africa and Europe. Its investment in Benin amounts to more than €13 million, an amount contributed by the African Development Bank (AfDB), the West African Development Bank (BOAD) and a consortium of local banks. In 2013, the company posted a turnover of 15.7 billion CFA francs, i.e. about 24 million euros for a workforce of 231 employees.

Vietnam expects surge of cashew exports

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NDO/VNA – Cashew exports are expected to surge in the latter half of the year once the COVID-19 pandemic is put under control. But the cashew industry will still have to lower its export target of US$4 billion for this year.

According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural development, exporters shipped 86,000 tonnes of nuts in the first three months of the year for US$609 million, down 4.7% year-on-year in value despite an 8.2% rise in volumes.

The US, the Netherlands and China remained the country’s top three biggest import markets, it said.

The pandemic outbreak in most of cashew importing countries has caused difficulties for Vietnamese firms exporting the nuts.

Pham Van Cong, chairman of the Vietnam Cashew Association, said the industry is unlikely to achieve its export target for the year of US$4 billion.

The association is conducting a comprehensive assessment to make appropriate adjustments to the target, he said.

The ministry’s Agro Processing and Market Development Authority said there has been good progress in controlling the pandemic in China, and exports to the market have shown signs of improvement.

Analysts said exports would recover after the pandemic is contained, and so enterprises would need to make plans to boost exports in the latter half of the year.

They said the EU would be a promising export market.

Germany has for instance high demand for small and medium-sized cashew nuts for use in the food industry, and Vietnamese firms are competitive in these varieties, they said.

The Ministry of Industry and Trade has forecast cashew exports to Germany to rise in the second half of the year when the pandemic is controlled and the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) comes into effect.

Its import-export department said businesses should closely monitor the disease situation to make plans, including purchasing raw cashew, selling processed nuts and stockpiling raw materials and finished products.

They also would need to enhance trade promotion activities online and connect businesses online now so that they could quickly revive exports as soon as the pandemic is controlled, it said.

Vietnamese enterprises imported 161,000 tonnes of raw cashew at a cost of US$246 million in the first three months of the year, a year-on-year decrease of 29.5% in volume and 37.9% in value.

Tanzania, Indonesia, Cambodia, the Ivory Coast, and Nigeria were the biggest suppliers.

Pistachios from Iran: A history of trade problems

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Andrea Durkin highlights four plotlines that characterize the problems if Iranian Nut Trade

Extreme Quantitative Restrictions – A Trade Embargo

For most of history, Iran has been the world’s biggest source of pistachios. They are Iran’s most significant agricultural export by volume and value. Iran was the biggest supplier to the United States, but damaged relations following the Islamic Revolution of 1979 changed that. U.S. sanctions imposed since that time have a complex and layered history but have almost always involved a complete embargo on Iranian exports to the United States.

Following the lifting of the initial embargo in 1981, Iran’s food exports to the United States rebounded somewhat before the embargo was reintroduced in 1987. In an easing of sanctions in 2000, very modest amounts of foods from Iran were imported through Treasury Department-issued licenses. By 2010, imports of foods from Iran were again fully prohibited. The 2015 Iran Nuclear Deal would have enabled Iran to export pistachios and other agricultural products and lifted restrictions on financing, which Iran hoped would inject much needed capital investment in the agricultural sector. U.S. withdrawal of the Nuclear Deal in May 2018 saw a return to strict U.S. sanctions on imports from Iran.

Milestones in US-Iran competition in global pistachio trade

Classic Farm Subsidies

When sanctions were first imposed in 1979, U.S. pistachio production was 7,700 metric tons, up quite substantially from the first U.S. commercial crop in 1976 of just 680 metric tons. In comparison, Iran had averaged 19,504 metric tons per year in the decade leading up to sanctions, but peaked in 1978 at nearly 59,874 metric tons. At the time, Iran accounted for nearly 100 percent of U.S. imported pistachio nuts. After falling off during the embargo, Iran renewed exports when the embargo was lifted in the early 1980s.

In March 1986, the Commerce Department found in favor of a U.S. industry petition that complained the Iranian government was subsidizing pistachio production. Iran (as many developing countries do) was providing supports to its agricultural producers by subsidizing the cost of key inputs such as fertilizer, chemicals, seeds, water and energy and by guaranteeing a minimum price for their output. The investigation resulted in a 99.5 percent countervailing duty on in-shell pistachios and a 318 percent duty on roasted pistachios.

Because Iran was not a signatory to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) and is not a WTO member (the United States has repeatedly blocked its application for accession), no injury determination was required.

US tariffs on pistachios

“Less Than Fair Value”

In a parallel 1986 investigation, the U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC) found that the volume of raw in-shell pistachios imported from Iran had increased significantly after the embargo was lifted in 1981. U.S. producers had secured 93.2 percent of the U.S. market in 1980, which was about 12.5 million pounds. By 1985, the overall size of the U.S. market had swelled to 61 million pounds, and Iran’s share had grown to 42.3 percent, accounting for almost 100 percent of all imports.

At the same time, the unit value of imports from Iran (import price) fell by around half. The USITC determined that raw in-shell pistachios imported from Iran were being sold at “less than fair market value” (or, being “dumped”) in the U.S. market, causing material injury to the U.S. industry. The Commerce Department calculated an offset in the form of a 241 percent antidumping duty, which would be applied in additional to the 99.5 percent countervailing duty.

In years of embargo, the duties were irrelevant and thus only two reviews have since been conducted to determine whether the duties should remain in place. In both 2005 and more recently in 2017, the USITC determined they should.

Developed v. Developing Country Producers

According to the Iran Pistachio Association (IPA), Iran has around 150,000 farmers, but more than 70 percent of the production is small-scale on orchards of 2 hectares or less. In a “good” year, annual pistachio production capacity reaches 280,000 metric tons in Iran, but harvesting is inefficient. Pistachios are picked by hand from fallen clusters, their hulls removed by hand, and the nuts graded manually. Inadequate water management undercuts Iranian production, but when Iran’s yield is strong, the country’s pistachio exporters hold a price and geographic advantage. And IPA says they are competitive globally based on strong demand for the wide variety of Iranian pistachio cultivars with different flavor profiles and a higher kernel to in-shell ratio.

In contrast, the United States has some 950 growers, mainly in California, whose mechanized production is highly efficient, yielding a whopping 487,500 metric tons over the 2018-19 season (though output is cyclical and weather-dependent so yields may be down over 30 percent this year). Achievements in increased outputs made during a period when the U.S. market was closed to Iran, its only major competitor, enabled the U.S. industry to reach a position where it could both serve the domestic market and challenge Iran for market share all over the world. Iran has barely exported any pistachios to the United States since 1986 but it remains a contender in key third markets.

US leads pistachio production

Combined, the United States and Iran account for more than 70 percent of global exports of pistachios. Iran tends to hold the top spot in the Middle East, India, and Eastern Europe and holds an edge in developing country markets. The key battlegrounds in the U.S.-Iran pistachio wars are Western Europe and China where demand is strong and growing.

American pistachio growers fretted when the Trump administration raised tariffs on products from China. When China retaliated, raising the tariff on U.S. pistachios from five to as high as 55 percent, that created an opportunity for China to substitute Iranian pistachios. However, Iran ultimately suffered a bad crop year and it’s not clear whether China collected the tariffs, so sales of U.S. pistachios in China actually increased.

Not a Happy or Tragic Ending

The U.S. pistachio industry was concerned about the potential for renewed competition from Iran under the 2015 nuclear deal that eased sanctions. Their fears were allayed when the USITC voted to maintain the 1986 legacy of prohibitive tariffs. No matter, the Trump administration has strengthened sanctions and the embargo remains.

In the end, global demand for pistachios is higher than production, leaving room for both American and Iranian producers to find a market for all they can grow.

In an NPR interview four years ago, Brian Blackwell, a grower from Tulare County, CA wasn’t concerned about the reentry of Iranian pistachios in the U.S. market and explained the nature of global commodity markets this way: “This is a global marketplace nowadays. So, if Iran brought a million pounds of pistachios into the United States, that just means there’s a million pounds that didn’t get sold in China or Europe. U.S. pistachios could fill that market.”

Read in full at: https://www.globaltrademag.com/pistachios-the-quirks-of-agricultural-trade-in-a-nutshell/