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Kakamega farmer who abandoned cane farming for nuts has no regret

prince mumia

Daniel Mumia, 24, a farmer in Kakamega County does not regret quitting sugarcane growing to focus on groundnut and Bambara nuts farming, a venture that is now earning him steady triple income.

The farmer now earns approximately Sh752,000 per season from nut farming compared to Sh240,000 he used to take home from sugarcane farming.

“I quit sugarcane farming two years ago due to delayed payments for cane delivered to Mumias Sugar Company which owes me Sh240,000 for 80 tonnes of produce,” said Mumia.

Data from the agriculture ministry reveals that farmers who supplied cane to Mumias Sugar Company and have not been paid for two years are owed Sh889m, Sony Sugar Sh512m, Muhoroni-Miwani Sh474m, Chemelil Sugar Sh201m and Nzoia Sh524m.

“I decided to grow groundnut and Bambara nut farming by expanding the in initial two acre farm into a six acre farm which was previously occupied by sugarcane.  The land was acquired from my father,” said Mumia.

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Daniel Mumia at his farm in Marungu, Kakamega County. Courtesy

The idea of venturing into nut farming was struck after his close friend shared the business idea which he liked and decided to give it a try.

In a season, the farmer harvests approximately 16 unshelled bags of groundnuts and up to 35 bags of Bambara nuts.

Once shelled the groundnuts reduce in volume to four bags which he sells at Sh13,000 per bag while Bambara nuts retails at Sh250 per kilo translating to Sh22,500 per 90kg bag at Matungu market.

“I thought it’s a good idea to try the Bambara nuts too, they used to be favorite dishes in the 90’s and early 2000 but currently even in the market it’s not easy to get them form the local shops because less people consume them an even plant them. It is resistant to high temperature and is suitable for marginal soils where other leguminous crops cannot be grown especially this region there are times when the temperatures are too high for other legumes”, added Daniel. 

The crop has a nutritive value of 65 per cent carbohydrate and 18 per cent protein content. Due to its high protein value it is a very important legume that can be a good substitute to meat, yet it is still considered as one of the prioritized neglected and underutilized species in Africa.

Aside from diet enhancement and the rich proteins found in the nuts, the legumes also add nitrogen to the soil. For instance the soils in Kakamega region where most farmers were practicing sugarcane farming, most of the soils lack nitrogen. The nutrients in the nuts improve the soil which means a reduced need for fertilizers.

Compared to the cereals, the nuts have all the essential nutrients that a food needs and because of this, they help in the prevention of malnutrition and other health related complications like kwashiorkor and even rickets which are triggered by poor dieting.

“I want to change the usual eating narrative in the region, although the produce may not be as big as anticipated but having it available to the market means people will consume them alongside other meals. The nuts also help in reducing the effects of various health conditions such as anemia as it contains iron and other essential nutrients which boost the body’s blood level,” said Mumia.  

Consuming the nuts is also an advantage to consumers as it reduces the chances of getting cancer and other health issues because of the presence of antioxidants which protects the body from harmful food chemicals. The minerals contained in the Bambara nuts such as calcium protects the body from arthritis, osteoporosis and other related bone diseases.

However, compared to the maize, maintaining the legumes is affordable, the pests are minimal. On a maize plantation, it takes almost 50 kg of fertilizer per acre which costs Sh1800 but for the nuts, they require 40 to 50 kg’s of CAN and NPK and five litres of folia feed for all six acres.

The Nut Processors Association of Kenya reports that macadamia production in Kenya has increased fourfold since 2009 when Kenya produced 11,000 metric tonnes to the current 41,164 metric tonnes.

According to the Nuts and Oil Crops Directorate report of 2017, the value of the crop rose from Sh4.3bn in 2015 to Sh5.1bn in 2017 due to expansion of the global market.


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