KENYA – The price of macadamia has experienced a threefold increase, providing a significant boost to farmers who are now receiving payments between US$0.69 and US$0.9 per kilogram, compared to US$0.21 last year.  

The surge in prices marks a notable improvement from the previous year when American and European markets rejected the nuts, citing a depressed economy. 

The positive turn of events follows the suspension of section 43 of the AFA Act in November last year, which had previously outlawed the export of in-shell macadamia nuts.  

Kenya’s Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mithika Linturi suspended the act for a 12-month period, responding to growers’ concerns and the lack of market access, especially after China began showing interest in raw nuts. 

Johnson Kihara, chairman of the Nut Traders Association of Kenya (Nutak), confirmed the successful lobbying for the removal of the export ban.  

Kihara highlighted that the suspension window, effective from November 2, last year, to November 1, 2024, has resulted in a significant impact, with increased exports of in-shell macadamia to the Chinese market. 

“The dealers have exported more than 50 containers of in-shells, a move that stabilized the price,” Kihara stated. 

Dealers from Murang’a, Meru, Kirinyaga, Embu, and Nyeri counties convened at a Sagana Hotel, where Agriculture and Food Authority (AFA) field officers announced plans to take radical measures to eliminate unregistered marketing agents from the value chain. 

AFA marketing officer Kiragu Gathunya emphasized the need for registration and adherence to quality standards for every agent involved in the macadamia trade.  

He warned against purchasing immature nuts and advocated for collaboration among agents, traders, processors, and exporters for the benefit of farmers. 

Gathunya revealed that a survey identified that 75 percent of agents contracted by processing companies are yet to register, emphasizing that the introduced conditions aim to streamline the industry and restore order. 

“AFA has embarked on surveillance to weed out those out to compromise the market that earns the government billions of revenue,” he stated. 

Gathunya further expressed concerns about the risk to Mt Kenya nut farming as more macadamia farms have been established in Nakuru, Kericho, and Uasin Gishu, where farmers own large tracts of land. He urged farmers to harvest mature nuts to prevent dealers from relocating to new areas for business. 

Ndirangu Nyorotha, a macadamia nut processor, revealed that over 20,000 metric tonnes of processed nuts are currently sitting in warehouses due to the lack of market following last year’s depressed international market. 

Between 90 and 95 percent of Kenya’s macadamia is produced for export. Key export destinations for Kenyan macadamia are the US, the European Union, Japan, China, Hong Kong and Canada. 

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