Macadamia to be added to edible oil crops to up returns

State Department for Crop Production Principal Secretary Phillip Harsama. [Wilberforce Okwiri, Standard]

The government is considering adding macadamia as one of the key edible oils producing crops to boost local consumption and economic value to farmers, State Department for Crop Production Principal Secretary Phillip Harsama has said.

The PS said the addition of macadamia as an edible oil-producing crop under the National Edible Oil Crops Project, alongside sunflower, canola and soybeans could provide a much-needed cushion for farmers hard hit by the prevailing global glut that has seen prices for the nut plummet to Sh20 down from Sh50 per kilogramme three years ago.

Speaking when he presided over a function to launch listed agribusiness firm Kakuzi's new brand, PS Harsama said increased domestic consumption of macadamia nuts in value-added forms will help provide relief to the global glut challenge and boost incomes for farmers.

"I am impressed that as the government advances the National Edible Oil Crops Project, Kakuzi, as part of its branding programme, is set to introduce competitively priced Macadamia cooking oil in the local market. This is a significant milestone that complements the National Edible Oil Crops Project and provides an avenue to diversify the pool of edible oils-producing crops beyond Sunflower, Canola and Soybeans to macadamia."

"Secondly, this development offers a route to double the consumption of macadamia nuts locally through value addition in the face of the current global glut."

As part of a dedicated value-addition process geared at raising local consumption for macadamia, Kakuzi has introduced a range of ready-to-eat macadamia consumer packs in various flavours. The firm has also commenced the production of cold-pressed macadamia cooking oil.

"Through resources from the exchequer, the State Department for Crop Development plans to spend more than Sh40 billion this financial year to implement the Bottom-up Economic Transformation Agenda priorities, including the National Edible Oil Crops Project," he said.

The government, he said, plans to provide 720 tonnes of certified sunflower seeds by the use of the e-voucher input subsidy services, 200 tonnes of assorted canola seeds, sunflower, soya and 10,000 coconut seedlings, and disburse million to 840 farmers as loans in Kwale, Mombasa, Taita Taveta Tana River and Kilifi Counties under the National Edible Oil Crops Project.

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