KENYA – Macadamia farmers in Kenya have become a lucky lot after the government set the price of a kilo of the nuts to KES100, an 80% increment from KES20.

Appearing before the Senate’s Agriculture Committee, Crop Development PS Kello Harsama said they have told exporters to make sure they buy the crop at Sh100 from farmers up from the current Sh20 a kilo.

The move comes after the recent move by Trade Cabinet Secretary Moses Kuria to temporarily lift an eight-year ban on the export of raw macadamia envisioned to help stabilize the prices that have sunk drastically low.

The ban was imposed in 2015 under Section 43 of the Agriculture and Food Authority (AFA) prohibiting the export of raw nuts.

According to Kirinyaga Senator James Murango and the committee chair, the team has been seeking to amend section 43 of the Agriculture and Food Authority in a bid to spur the macadamia export industry.

Murango, therefore, wants the Ministry of Agriculture to permanently lift the ban on the export of macadamia nuts to eradicate middlemen exploiting farmers.

“We wrote to the Ministry to open up the market for more exporters, and also help the farmers to increase the macadamia prices. We are glad they have done that,” Murango said.

Senator Mundigi, who chaired the session, had expressed concerns about why the Agriculture ministry is not keen on letting the macadamia market be free to allow farmers to connect to the outside market directly.

Responding to the concern, Harsama said the ministry has been opening the macadamia market to allow for raw export of the crop as well as the processing of the crop by local factories.

Harsama pointed out that the Agriculture CS Mithika Linturi last week allowed nine exporters to sell the crop to China in raw form for the next three months after a meeting with them.

He also detailed that other exporters or farmers who want to export macadamia are free to get permission from the cabinet secretary.

The PS explained that the reason the ministry has gone slow in allowing the mass export of raw macadamia is because the ministry has been encouraging local processing. Last year, the number of local processing plants grew from five to 38 employing many Kenyans.

During the dialogue with the senators, Harsama said: “To ensure farmers are not taken advantage of, we have told exporters to make sure the price of a kilo of macadamia rises to Sh100 in the next two weeks.”

He attributed the sharp drop in the price of macadamia from Sh200 a kilo to Sh20 a kilo to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The reduction in the price of macadamia is not the making of the Ministry of Agriculture and food authority but a Covid-19 making. The global market has not recovered ever since,” Harsama explained.

For all the latest grains industry news from Africa, the Middle East and the World, subscribe to our weekly NEWSLETTERS, follow us on LinkedIn and subscribe to our YouTube channel