Macadamia farmers reap big from export deal

Macadamia nuts. [Kibata Kihu, Standard]

The price of macadamia has appreciated threefold, with farmers getting better payment of between Sh100 and Sh130 per kilogramme.

This is an improvement in the payment from Sh30 last year when the commodity was being hawked after the American and European markets rejected the nuts, citing a depressed economy.

The gain in payment follows the suspension of section 43 of the AFA Act in November last year that had outlawed the export of in-shell.

Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mithika Linturi suspended the Act for 12 months following an outcry from growers over the lack of market as China embraced raw nuts.

Nut Traders Association of Kenya (Nutak) chairman Johnson Kihara said they had lobbied for the removal.

Kihara noted that the suspension window would run between November 2, last year, and November 1, 2024, and has created an impact with increased export of the commodity to the Chinese market by the applicants.

“The dealers have exported more than 50 containers of in-shells, a move that stabilised the price,” he said.

The dealers from Murang’a, Meru, Kirinyaga, Embu, and Nyeri counties had converged at a Sagana Hotel, where AFA field officers said radical measures would be taken to weed out the unregistered marketing agents from the value chain.

AFA marketing officer Kiragu Gathunya said as the harvesting season starts next month, the unregistered dealers will be dealt with after they were implicated in the delivery of immature nuts that have compromised the market.

He noted that a survey established that 75 per cent of the agents contracted by the processing companies are yet to register to comply with the regulations.

Gathunya said the conditions introduced are geared to streamline the industry and restore sanity.

“AFA has embarked on surveillance to weed out those out to compromise the market that earns the government billions of revenue,” he said.

He disclosed that Mt Kenya nut farming was at risk as more macadamia farms have been established in Nakuru, Kericho, and Uasin Gishu, where the farmers own huge tracks of land.

“Ensure you harvest mature nuts as the dealers might be forced to relocate to the new areas for business,” said Gathunya.

Ndirangu Nyorotha, a macadamia nut processor, said there are more than 20,000 metric tonnes of processed nuts in the warehouses, going to waste due to lack of market following last year’s depressed international market.

“In my Sagana warehouse, there are processed nuts estimated at Sh18 million, which cannot be shipped after losing the requisite taste,” said Ndirangu, a member of the Nutak.

Mwangi Kagombe, a farmer in Mathira, said opening the export window helped the nut farmers earn better after months of incurring heavy costs.

“Macadamia nuts were sold to run boilers in the KTDA-managed factories in Nyeri and Kirinyaga as an alternative to wood fuel as the wastage was in plenty,” said Kagombe.

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