By George Munene
Trade and Investment Cabinet Secretary Moses Kuria has lifted the ban on the exportation of raw macadamia nuts for one year in an effort to lift falling prices.
The government instituted a ban on the export of raw macadamia in 2015 in the hope that a value-added product would fetch better prices for growers in the international market as well as empower local processors to create local jobs and boost industrialisation in the country.
However, since the ban macadamia prices have been on a precipitous decline from over Sh200 before its institution to half that in around 2018, and as low as Sh20 a kilogram for the highly coveted nut in shell.
According to the CS, 40 Macadamia processors have colluded to use this law to hijack the agriculture sub-sector by buying nuts for as low as Sh20 per kilogram and selling the same at Sh800 in international markets. “We don’t expect farmers to be paid Sh800, but want to see prices come up to about Sh250 per kilo for our toiling farmers,” said Kuria.
Per Section 43 of the Agriculture and Food Authority (AFA) Act: “A person shall not export raw cashew nuts, pyrethrum, bixa, macadamia or any other agricultural product as may be prescribed, except with the written authority of the Cabinet Secretary.”
The ban’s lifting comes on the heels of Agriculture CS Mithika Linturi urging farmers not to sell their macadamia at the prevailing prices.
“I’d compel farmers not to sell their macadamia to brokers at the prevailing Sh20. Through the AFA board and Ministry of Trade we will ensure we get the right terms which will allow us to give the way forward as I don’t want farmer’s products to go to waste due to low cost,” Linturi said late last month.
Macadamia farming is majorly practiced in Muranga, Meru, Embu Kiambu, and Kirinyaga which produces 5,313 tonnes of the nut in 2021. According to data from the Agriculture and Food Authority, countrywide production stood at 42, 546 tonnes with 7,180 hectares under its production as of 2021.