The demand for macadamia nuts is at an all-time high as earnings from the produce increased by 19 per cent in 2017 as compared to 2016.
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 and subsequent increase in prices of a kilo from Sh70 in January last year to between Sh160 and Sh180 currently.
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The report reveals that the area under cultivation of the crop increased 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.
In this, Meru, Kirinyaga and Murang’a counties recorded the highest increase of more than 100 hectares.
According to the report, farmers are embracing the crop in Busia, Uasin Gishu, Trans Nzoia, Baringo, Busia, Bungoma and some parts of Nakuru which are up to now considered Kenya’s bread basket with producing over 61 per cent of maize, the country’s staple food crop.
The directorate notes that increase in prices is also attributed to increase in licensed nut makers from 18 to 24 over a period of one year under review.
The crop is majorly used as food and is rich in vitamin A, B and iron, manganese and anti-oxidants which are essential in protecting the human body.
Macadamia nuts are also used in the cosmetic industry as an ingredient in face scrub.