BY JOSEPH MUCHIRI
The farmers said they oppose the move since it allows monopoly of the trade, which leads to low prices.
They noted if the controls are not removed, they will uproot their macadamia plantations. Stephen Njeru, their spokesperson, said the farmers must be allowed to sell their nuts to willing buyers. This is against the proposed arrangement where they claim HCDA wants to restrict them to sell their produce to only some specified buyers.
Njeru said while prices of the nuts were very high before the entrance of Nutpak and HCDA, the price has since plummeted from Sh140 to the current Sh50 per kilo.
“The proposals by HCDA will retard the development of macadamia industry as it is calculated to get rid of foreign companies, which have made the prices very competitive,” said Njeru yesterday in Kirinyaga.
Njeru said the association should have involved farmers and other stakeholders before coming up with the marketing guidelines. Nutpuk Head of Secretariat Charles Muigai dismissed farmers’ claims as being driven by ignorance and misinformation.
Muigai said brokers who used to exploit farmers since Chinese firms did not have direct contact with farmers are now unhappy and are up in arms since their margin has reduced after liberalisation of the trade.
HCDA technical manager Arim Ogolla said the authority is trying to ensure exported macadamia is of high quality and thus make the industry competitive.