Nut Processors Association of Kenya, an industry platform for nut processors is mooting new laws that will guide in harvesting and marketing of nuts and ensure farmers are known to avoid increased theft of the nuts unscrupulous traders.
According to a 2016 proposed Macadamia Policy by Embu County agricultural ministry, the macadamia nuts industry has had several challenges since the introduction of market liberalization policies and privatization of the economy since 1990s.
Some of these challenges include phyto-sanitary problems, export of smuggled immature low quality raw nuts and fluctuating prices affecting farmers and the industry as a whole.
However, according to Charles Muigai, Nut Processors Association of Kenya CEO, the new regulations in the pipeline will guide in harvesting and marketing of nuts and ensure farmers are known to avoid increased theft of the nuts.
“With no clear regulations and procedures, the quality of our macadamia will be low prompting our nuts to be locked out from international markets,” said Muigai.
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The nuts processors are in the process of drafting a law to streamline the industry and are currently conducting public participation to get public opinion of the proposed law before it’s sent to Parliament.
The association on Thursday last week organized a public participation meeting held at the Kenya Agricultural Research and Livestock Organization (KARLO) centre in Kandara to collect farmers’ views.
During the session stakeholders expressed their fears that if necessary strategies are not put in place, Kenya may lose its position in provision of quality macadamia internationally.
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Speaking during the meeting, Chairman of Nuts Traders Association, Johnson Kihara, criticized the proposed law, saying its sponsors are trying to push out independent traders who have ventured in the macadamia business.
Kihara castigated Agriculture Food Authority (AFA) of failing to provide proper guidelines saying the authority is being influenced to spearhead only interests of the processors.
“As traders we want a liberal market, free for all macadamia players. Very many farmers market their nuts through us and we should not be ignored,” said Kihara.
Towards the end of last year, AFA imposed a ban on harvesting of Macadamia between November 1 and February 15 as a way to curtail farmers from harvesting immature nuts.
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The processors claimed that macadamia mature at different times considering climatic conditions of counties where the crop is grown.
The participants unanimously underscored the imposition of tough measures to ensure only mature nuts get into the market.