KENYA – The Government of Kenya is exploring alternative ways of using macadamia in a move to boost farmer earnings amid the oversupply of the crop in the market.
According to the Crop Development Principal Secretary, Kello Harsama, the incorporation of Macadamia as an edible-oil producing crop under the National Edible Oil Crops Project would provide a much-needed cushion for farmers hard hit by the prevailing glut leading to low pricing.
Harsama noted that increased domestic consumption of macadamia nuts in various value added forms will help provide relief to the global glut challenge and boost incomes for farmers.
“Farmers are receiving about Kes 45 per kg from processors and Kes 15 and Kes 20 per kg from brokers which is down from prices of between Kes 120 and Kes 200 per kg about three years ago,” he said.
Peter Mucheni, a farmer from in Tetu constituency blamed the existing monopoly in the market for the continuous price depreciation against the backdrop of the global economic recession and overproduction
He urged the government to provide ways to saturate the market so that there can be competition for the product.
“Currently, there are only a handful of buyers in the market and we are at wit’s ends trying to bargain for higher prices for our products,” he said.
“The prices they are offering us are way below the production costs.”
According to the farmer, April is usually a peak season when the farmers harvest and transport their product to the market, but the product has remained in their farms even after the harvesting period.
However, in a move to curb the existing glut in the macadamia market, the Kakuzi firm has introduced a range of ready-to-eat macadamia consumer packs in various flavors.
The firm has also commenced the production of cold-pressed macadamia cooking oil.
“I am impressed that as the government advances the National Edible Oil Crops Project, Kakuzi as part of its branding program is set to introduce competitively priced Macadamia Cooking oil in the local market,” PS Harsama said during the rebranding of the listed agricultural firm.
He noted that the development will offer a route to double up the consumption of Macadamia nuts locally through value addition.
Earlier this year, the Trade Cabinet Secretary, Moses Kuria, also temporarily lifted the ban on the export of raw macadamia nuts which has been in place since 2015 in an effort to boost farmer incomes.