Macadamia farming, saving Nyeri residents from alcoholism

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Embracing macadamia farming by most small scale farmers in Nyeri who previously could hardly manage life due to low demand of their agricultural products is reviving hopes among alcoholics.

Macadamia which takes about 3-4 years to mature  is preferred by the farmers as a safer way of making cool cash after coffee farming failed most of them because of erratic market and unscrupulous middlemen who dictated market price for their own gain.

“I had lost hope in farming when I realised I was not making any progress. I planted coffee in a section of my four acre land, harvested and sold to a trader who took them to an industry in Thika,” said David Chege, a farmer from Nyeri.

“At the first time he paid me well, after building trust he started paying in bits complaining that the market was bad before disappearing with my balance of about Sh50, 000.”

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Stressed by the increased family needs that he hardly managed, Chege started taking alcohol. He could spend about Sh250 a week on alcohol till he met Ms. Wabui Rigaga Kilonzo, head of Agriculture and Special Projects at Afrimac Nut Company Ltd during macadamia farming promotion in Nyeri town.

After being informed about Afrimac’s products and services, Chege decided to partner with the company as a supplier of macadamia seedlings to fellow farmers in the region while at the same time growing his own.

Now it is almost a year, Chege’s life has change from one drunkard man to an ambassador of macadamia farming in the region. “I harvest between 30-50kg of macadamia every season which I sell at Sh200 a kilo and still earn a commission depending on my seedlings sales,” said Chege.

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Geoffrey Mutua is another resident from Nyeri who due to lack of employment had started drinking alcohol to his stupor. He learnt the news about macadamia and Afrimac farming from a friend and got connected. That was the end of his alcoholic addiction and joblessness. He is now one of those dedicated farmers and workers with Afrimac.

According to Kilonzo, their company enters in partnership with groups of small scale farmers and individuals willing to grow macadamia. They offer them agronomical trainings, seedlings at a subsidized fee, free transport and market upon harvesting.

“We sell our seedlings at Sh350 per seedling but when we have a deal with farmers we can sell them at a lesser price given the fact that they will supply the company with the nuts eventually,” said Kilonzo.

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Kilonzo says that macadamia can do well in most parts of the country as it comes in various varieties and that a keen farmer can rake up to one million yearly from the venture.