Macadamia farmers being grouped into clusters

A farmer from Kiamwathi Village , Kirinyaga East sub-county James Kiarie shows his macadamia nuts trees. [Photo:Munene Kamau/Standard]

The County Government is registering macadamia farmers to lock out brokers and middlemen. After the registration, farmers will be grouped according to zones and the produce stored at central points.

Agriculture Executive Jakan Gutu said the programme had started.

“Once we cluster the farmers, it will be difficult for the brokers to get any opportunity to exploit them since there will be strict predetermined price for the nuts,” he said.

The programme, he added, was also expected to significantly reduce the rampant theft of nuts since only registered farmers would be allowed to deliver the produce to the established storage centres.

Dr Gutu said all prospective buyers would be required to register with his department to ensure transparency of their deals.

“This stringent requirement is meant to safeguard the interests of our farmers and I must assure some of the buyers who have in the past collected the nuts and disappeared without payments that it will not be business as usual,” Gutu warned.

Extension officers have been deployed to educate farmers on best farming practices.

“Right now the quantity available is little to sustain demand both locally and internationally,” he said, adding that their main focus was to double production from the current 400,000kg a year.

Briefing the Press at his Kutus town office yesterday, Gutu said cries by farmers on the thefts of their produce had reached him and action was being taken.

The official said once the registration was completed, a census of the trees would be done.

"Under the county's Wezesha Programme, women and youth groups will benefit from quality macadamia seedlings, which are being supplied to the two categories... and once successful, we will hit the target of 1 million kilogrammes of nuts per year up from the current 400,000kg," he said.

Last week, various farmers from around the county reported thefts of the crop and urged the government to improve security. The high price of the nuts - Sh170 per kilogramme - is said to have led to the theft cases.

Brokers and middlemen are also said to have fuelled the thefts due to underproduction of the crop this season.

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