Y Khap is a cashew farmer from one of the many ethnic minority communities in the Lagrai area of Pleiku, Vietnam. He lives in a wooden house tucked between the shade of his cashew trees in order to guard the land and precious nuts during harvest season.
Being a cashew farmer is a difficult job, as he is always dependent on the actions of mother nature as well as the global cashew market. The last visit we had to Y Khap’s farm, he met up with his brother Y Suan. Together they run the 2.5 hectare (6 acre) cashew plantation.
The brothers’ family has a long history in the cashew business as their parents used to collect cashews. Middlemen would purchase their cashews along with those from hundred of other collectors and sell to local buying agents. Being at the beginning of the supply chain meant unfair prices with little bargaining power. During the off-season, their parents would collect various other crops in order to make enough money to feed their family.
Now the boys are grown and have managed to purchase land and run their own plantation. “Although the size of the crop in 2017 was disappointing,” they note, “we managed to make profit.”
The brothers intend to invest this profit in a small tractor which they can use on the land to increase the speed of cashew collection. This investment also gives them the opportunity to transport their cashews in bigger quantities directly to Red River buying agents instead of having to sell to middle men for lower prices. By working directly with farmers like Y Khap and and Y suan, we are able to shorten the supply chain and ensure fair prices are being paid to those that work so hard to grow the cashews from seed to kernel.