SECTIONS

Boost for macadamia farmers as buyer offers higher prices

By James Anyanzwa

Nairobi,Kenya:Optimism: Crop has been fetching as low as Sh30 to Sh50 a kilo in Taita-Taveta but farmers can now expect Sh70 per kilo

Macadamia farming in Taita-Taveta County has received a shot in the arm. This is after Taita Macadamia Farmers Association (TMFA) entered into an agreement with a foreign company to buy the crop at favourable prices.

TMFA Chairman Mr Baldwin Mwangoji said the Association with 450 members has signed a deal with Tencents African Company to purchase macadamia at Sh70 per kilo.

Mwangoji described the agreement as a breakthrough to farmers who have for long been exploited after selling the nuts at low prices.

He said farmers are likely to extricate themselves from the jaws of poverty considering the fact that one plant can produce more than 50 kilos.

“Tencents will certainly offer a reliable market since farmers will now have a steady income because the market will be structured unlike it used to be in the past,” Mwangoji told Business Beat.

According to Mwangoji, TMFA has acquired the fair trade certification — which has seen even global investors express interest to trade in macadamia with the association. “We have received proposals from interested buyers from European nations such as Holland and Yugoslavia and it’s now upon farmers to intensify their efforts and increase the supply to meet the increasing demand,” he said.

Mwangoji expressed regrets that the region has not been producing enough macadamia nuts to meet the market demand. “Currently, we only produce 50 tonnes annually and the market demand is five times what we produce. This means there is need for concerted efforts to fulfill the demand,” he added.

Mwangoji at the same time indicated that local macadamia nuts are free of chemicals as they grow in a disease free environment.

Macadamia nuts are popular worldwide for producing various types of oils and fats which are colestrol free and are of high nutritional value.

The Taita-Taveta County government has set aside Sh113 million to go towards agricultural development in its just released budget, out of a total of Sh3.3 billion.

The TMFA chairman said the shot in the arm for macadamia farming in Taita- Taveta County is a worthwhile development which could spur agricultural development in the region in line with Vision 2030.