The Embu County government has launched macadamia farming for farmers in the region at a time when macadamia earnings in 2017 increased by 19 per cent compared to the previous year according to the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics.
In this, farmers will get a free seedling for every one purchased in a move aimed at encouraging farmers to up the cultivation of the crop that has seen its value increase from Sh70 in January 2017 to Sh180, its current price.
According to the Nuts and Oil Crops Directorate, macadamia exports earned Kenya Sh5.1bn in 2017 up from Sh4.3bn two years ago driven by the expansion of the global market and increase in price per kilogram.
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The county government has already distributed over 5,000 seedlings to khat (miraa) farmers to enable them diversify their crop production as khat has experienced challenges such as the crop being banned in the United Kingdom, Tanzania and the Netherlands leaving Kenyan farmers with Somalia as the major main market.
Embu Governor Martin Wambora distributing macadamia seedlings outside his office last week/PHOTO/The Star
Farmers in the region also depend on maize and beans to sustain their livelihoods but with the infestation of the fall armyworm that has mainly affected maize, the production of the crop dropped from 37m bags in 2016 to 32m bags in 2017 according to the ministry of agriculture and fisheries.
Kirinyaga, Meru and Murang’a counties lead in the production of macadamia with cultivation of the crop increasing from 15,512 hectares in 2016 to 16,153 hectares in 2017 thereby leading to improved production of 41.614 tonnes compared 39,821 tonnes realized in 2016 as per data from the Nuts and Oil Crops Directorate of Kenya.
The cultivation of the crop is further expanding to the maize producing counties of Busia, Bungoma, Trans Nzoia, Baringo and Busia hitherto considered Kenya’s bread basket producing over 61 per cent of the country’s staple food, maize.
In Embu and the central Kenya region, farmers can obtain seedlings at Limbua Company Ltd, the producer of organic macadamia seedlings by reaching them on +254 727-624186.