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Nut farmers seek export directive

By Faith Karanja | November 21st 2018
Macadamia nuts.

Macadamia farmers are battling to be allowed to export unprocessed nuts.

Sixty farmers from Nyeri, Embu and Meru have moved to court, arguing they do not have any other source of livelihood other than cultivating and selling macadamia.

In an affidavit filed by John Muriithi, the farmers say they use proceeds from macadamia to educate their children.

The farmers have filed three cases.

Key respondents

The Cabinet Secretary for Agriculture, Fisheries and Livestock, Agriculture and Food Authority, and the Attorney General are key respondents in the suits.

“We urgently require to sell our farm produce at better prices in the international markets such as China to enable us pay fees for our children. We have no other source of income since miraa was banned in Europe,” said Muriithi.

He said Chinese investors who came to Meru used to buy the nuts at Sh300 per kilo, but they were ‘illegally” arrested and extradited by respondents.

Tharaka-Nithi county government and NutProcessors Association of Kenya (Nutpak) have sought to be enjoined in the case. A ruling on their application will be delivered on November 22, 2018.

The farmers said the respondents should not be allowed to use Section 43 of Agriculture Fisheries and Food Authority (AFFA) Act subdue and frustrate their business.

“AFFA has no constitutional mandate to regulate and license agricultural crops as the power lies with the county governments,” he said.

The respondents on the other hand are seeking to strike out the petition by the farmers.

A case in Embu has since been dismissed, but the farmers have appealed against it at the Court of Appeal in Nyeri.

The farmers are seeking an interpretation of section 43 of AFFA Act, 2013, as to what actually is referred to as “raw macadamia”.

They are also seeking orders for farmers not to be denied the right to sell macadamia shell overseas since it is a priced product with more value in the international markets.

Against constitution

“A declaratory order to be issued forthwith decreeing that the applicants are entitled to own and sell their macadamia to the buyer of their choice locally and internationally with or without shell provided that the same is not raw macadamia as stated in law,” said Muriithi.

They say prohibition of export of macadamia with shell is against the Constitution.

“A declaration that any directive that macadamia shells be removed contrary to the consumer rights and their wishes is unreasonable in an open and democratic society and violates human dignity,” they argue.

Kenya Revenue Authority and Council of Governors are the interested parties.

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