More than 15000 farmers in Kilifi, Lamu and Kwale counties are set to receive free cashew nut seedlings in a bid to revive the industry that collapsed three decades ago.
The project is funded the European Union at a tune of Sh236m and comes at a time when earnings from the horticulture sector increased by 11 per cent to Sh115.25bn in 2017 compared to 2016 according to the 2018 economic survey report.
The funds will be used to establish cashew nut tree nurseries, establishing a processing plant and identifying markets for farmers in the region. Farmers will receive grafted tree seedlings that mature after three years.
The processing plant will have the capacity to process 400 tonnes of cashew nuts per month.
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Currently, Kenya produces an average of 10,000 metric tonnes of cashew nuts valued at Sh264.9m, way below the potential of 63,000 metric tonnes valued at one billion shillings.
In this, export earnings from cut flowers grew by 16.1 per cent to Sh82.2bn in 2017 and accounted for 71.3 per cent of total earnings from horticulture in 2017, mainly occasioned by a 19.7 per cent increase in export volumes. Exports values of fruits and vegetables increased by 23.3 per cent and 3.0 per cent, respectively in 2017.
Fruits and vegetables earned nine billion shillings and Sh24bn, on export volumes of 56,945 tonnes and 87,240 tonnes respectively.
Unripe cashew nuts at a farm in Kwale County. Photo: courtesy
Cashew nuts are a source of vitamin C, calcium, iron and vitamin B1. They can be eaten raw or roasted and helps control blood pressure by enhancing blood circulation and boosts virility in men.
At the moment, farmers in the region grow mangoes, cassava, coconut trees and citrus fruits.
A kilo of cashew nuts is presently retailing at Sh500 wholesale and between Sh600 and Sh750 retail for broken nuts.