The Board of Investments (BOI) recently gave the nod to the application of R-LEY TRADING as an expanding export producer of roasted cashew nuts. The firm is a small medium enterprise (SME) participant and to boost access to local and international markets, it qualified under the under the Export Activities category of the 2017 Investment Priorities Plan (IPP).

The PhP7.87 million project in Roxas, Palawan is also considered an expansion/modernization project since it involves the installation of additional facilities or equipment that would result in the increase of capacity of the said activity within the existing plant of the enterprise.

The single proprietorship firm is a major producer as well as wholesaler/distributor of cashew nuts in Palawan. The existing operation involves manual splitting and the use of decorticator machine. The expansion project involves acquisition of automatic machines to be imported from Vietnam such as, decorticating machine, shelling machine, sorting machine, peeling and packing machines. With the expansion, they will also process roasted whole cashew nuts. R-LEY is an existing processor of semi-processed cashew nuts to several trading centers in Palawan, Pampanga, Bohol, Iloilo and Cebu since 2012 but it is not registered with BOI.

“In acquiring new machines, the firm will increase its production by over 800 percent over five years. We should take advantage of cashew’s expanding potential for commercial production as there is a continuous demand for nutritious food products. Palawan should lead the way since it is considered as the country’s cashew capital,” Trade Undersecretary and BOI Managing Head Ceferino Rodolfo said.

The firm churned out 11,250 kilograms of cashew nuts in 2016. In the first year of expansion, it will produce 20,000 kilograms and by the fifth year, it will increase to 102,000 kilograms. Half of its production is for the domestic market with the rest to be exported to Japan. Commercial operation is slated to start on October 2017 with an initial 19 employees which will increase to 66 personnel by year five.

Cashew production in the Philippines totaled 216,398 metric tons (MT) in 2016, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA). Palawan alone accounted for about 95 percent of the 2016 production with 209,181 MT. The country is one of the top ten cashew producers in the world.

Studies have shown that cashews are relatively high in fat, but with 80 percent unsaturated it is known to decrease bad cholesterol levels among people.♦