Kenya: A Boon for Macadamia Farmers in the County as Earnings Soar
Murang’a — Macadamia farmers in the country earned more than Sh4 billion in 2022, owing to increased production of the nuts.
The chairman of the Nuts Traders Association of Kenya Johnson Kihara has said during the same year, farmers produced more than 65, 000 metric tons of macadamia.
In an interview with KNA in Murang’a Monday, Kihara noted that a kilo of macadamia was being bought at not less than Sh90, attributing the good prices to a healthy business competition by the numerous processors.
Consequently, the chairman observed that a section of coffee farmers especially in parts of central Kenya have shifted to macadamia farming after prices of the nuts went up.
“The number of macadamia farmers has gone up. This has led to more production and equally increased processors, who have occasioned competition, thus better prices,” he stated.
There are approximately 6,000 macadamia farmers in the country, with majority of them coming from the Mount Kenya region.
Kihara said this year prices were better saying in the past two years; the sales were greatly affected by effects of Covid-19.
“The macadamia sector was however able to withstand the turbulence at the global market posed by various factors including Covid-19 and this has seen the farmers get good returns,” he said.
The chairman noted that Kenya is ranked third globally in the production of macadamia, which has a huge potential of boosting the economic growth of the country.
Kihara noted that licensing of new 35 processors from the previous five by the Agriculture and Food Authority (AFA) has helped farmers to get a wider market for their macadamia products.
“During the year under review, no macadamia nuts were left in the farms, unlike before when a processor would only buy the required quantity, leaving lot of waste in the homesteads,” he added.
Kihara however decried increased theft of macadamia from farms saying the crime is being perpetuated by unscrupulous processors, whose intention is to amass adequate nuts and smuggle them out of the country.
“The theft of macadamia brings down earnings of farmers and also leads to harvesting of immature nuts which always go into waste,” he said.
Kihara however urges the AFA to up its game and streamline the sector for farmers to get better returns.
“AFA is the sole regulator of the macadamia sub sector, but it appears like the officers have gone to bed with the processors, leading to a compromise instead of fighting for the farmers,” he said.
He asked AFA officers to be fully involved in the entire macadamia value chain from planting of the seedlings to the marketing component, which was not being done at the moment.
“Currently, the officers only purport to exert their authority when the farmers are harvesting as they try to control the market, which is of little benefit,” he said.
Kihara also called for revival of a petition tabled in parliament way back in 2016 to have Section 43 of the Crop Act 2013 amended and also seal all the loopholes, which allow illegal smuggling of the nuts.
A macadamia farmer from Kandara sub county, Peter Maina said he got over Sh150, 000 from the produce, up from Sh100, 000 he got last year.
“The nuts are giving us better returns compared to coffee. I have planted about 30 trees in my farm and I intend to add more to boost production,” said Maina. – Kna