MALAWI – Macadamia nuts farmers in Malawi are expected to get a US$4 million (about K3 billion) boost for their farming business through Global Tea and Commodities Limited project.

The fund, which will come from the World Bank’s private sector financing arm, International Finance Corporation (IFC), seeks to help expand macadamia nuts processing operations in Malawi, the world’s seventh largest producer of the crop reports The Nation Malawi.

Global Tea and Commodities Limited chairperson Nadeem Ahmed said Malawi has been failing to meet the demand for the crop, which takes 10 years for the macadamia tree to start producing for the market.

He said due to the limited supply on the global market, macadamia nuts prices can fetch as much as US$15, 000 (about K11 million) per tonne while groundnuts prices range from US$250 (about K185 000) to $300 (K222 000) per tonne.

“If you look at the world of nuts, macadamia is by far the smallest crop. Half the world has not heard of macadamia nuts to date; hence, more demand.’’

“There is already plenty of tea and coffee in the world that is why most farmers are looking at alternative crops. The wait is long, but down the line, there will be demand for the next 30 to 40 years,” he said.

Demand for macadamia nuts is growing in major markets of the world, which presents export opportunities for local producers.

According to Trade Map, the global export market for macadamia was worth $843 million (K623 billion) in 2018.

IFC country manager Manuel Moses said the project is about increasing the producing capacity of Malawi macadamia nuts using the private sector solutions through increased hectarage and expanding production facilities as well as working with smallholder farmers in Thyolo and Mzimba.

He said, so far, 230 000 macadamia trees have been planted in the last two years out of the targeted 300 000.

Global Tea is one of Malawi’s top macadamia producers. It launched its smallholder macadamia programme in 2016.