Macadamia farmers in Kenya will now see a US $69m increase in their earnings. This is after the new macadamia market in America lifted prices by 24% in a quality boost bid last year. A report by the Agriculture and Food Authority (Afa) shows a total of 5,526 metric tonnes was exported as a 2017. This is an increase from the 5,423 metric tonnes of processed macadamia nuts worth US $56m sold abroad in 2016.
According to media reports, the measures taken by Afa inspectors have resulted in reduced harvesting of premature nuts, lifting quality of produce reaching the market and attracting higher prices.
Afa’s Director-General Alfred Busolo also noted that macadamia farmers lost approximately US $6.7m. This, he says, can be attributed to processors who harvest immature nuts to cash in on high demand but upon delivery. Agents posing as middlemen buy the crop from farmers to sell it to Chinese farms. More often than not this results to rejection of more than 10% of the crop supplied by the processers, leading to heavy losses for the farmer.
In a bid to find a solution to the same, Mr. Busolo said that Afa is presently looking to intensify impromptu raids in the nut-growing areas. According to him, this will serve the purpose of weeding out middlemen behind the unripe nut harvesting. Furthermore, severe penal action will be taken against anyone perpetrating the vice.
Mr. Busolo further added that Kenya is encouraging investments in value addition of macadamia nuts thereby giving farmers higher returns. However, he was quick to add that the smuggling of the macadamia nuts is likely to dampen the aforementioned efforts if it goes unchecked.
Kenyan nuts are highly popular abroad due to their crunchy nature and the subsector has attracted numerous players, especially after it was liberalized ushering in fierce competition among local, foreign roasters and raw nuts exporters.