Taita Taveta Shifts To Lucrative Macadamia Farming.
Following the impressive adoption of drought-resistant crops and the adoption of smart agricultural practices, Taita Taveta is not slowing down in its pursuit of a food-secure country, with its attention now shifting to the lucrative macadamia farming.
With extension assistance from the national and county governments, the county’s macadamia farming acreage is expected to increase from 300 hectares with a yield of 300,000 tonnes per year to 2000 hectares by the end of 2022.
“We’re working hard to see macadamia farming become another reliable and sustainable stream of income for our farmers, who are moving away from the traditional maize crop.
“We’ve received support in a range of areas from the national government and donor-funded organizations and with that, we aim to increase macadamia farming acreage from the current 300 hectares to 2, 000 hectares by the close of this year,” said the County Executive Committee Member in charge of Agriculture, Fisheries and Irrigation, Davis Mwangoma.
Smallholder farmers are at the heart of this revolution, having abandoned unreliable maize farming and taking the macadamia challenge seriously.
Thousands of macadamia farmers gathered at an event attended by national and county government officials as well as a Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) delegation to launch what would become the county’s largest macadamia cooperative society.
“We’re taking a bold step into the future of small-scale macadamia farmers not only with the launch of this society but also in terms of the support we’ll give them.
“We welcome the national government, county government, NGOs, and other well-wishers to walk with us on this journey,” said Gideon Mwasingo, the vice-chair, and coordinator of the Taita Taveta Macadamia cooperative society limited.
Macadamia not only meets the criteria for a climatically adaptive crop, but it is also on the list of high-value products with the potential to generate income, create job opportunities, and serve as a foundation for grassroots economic growth.
Kenya is punching above her weight, ranking third in global macadamia production with a 13% market share. In 2018, a kilogram of macadamia kernels sold for Sh1,380, making it the second most profitable agricultural export after tea.
The traditional market for Kenyan macadamia used to be Europe, but China’s entry into the market space is a sign of better days ahead.
One positive aspect of macadamia production in Kenya is that it is supported by over 200,000 small-scale farmers, who not only provide a source of income but also create job opportunities for locals.
Kenya’s Agricultural and Food Authority (AFA) expects production to reach 60,000 nuts in shell (NIS) tonnes by the end of 2022 as more smallholder farmers, such as those in Taita Taveta, join the macadamia farming industry.
The increased production and ever-expanding market create opportunities for Kenyans in the macadamia value-addition chain, with the potential to diversify products and add to Kenya’s bag of exports.
With the president’s emphasis on boosting local manufacturing, several factories have been established to add to the current 30 licensed macadamia processing plants, creating additional jobs and injecting critical revenue for the expansion and growth of local industries.
The global market for macadamia nuts was worth USD 1.31 billion in 2020, with a compound annual growth rate of 10.7 percent expected between 2021 and 2028.
Kenya, in particular, has the potential to seize the opportunity and become a global force to be reckoned with by claiming a larger slice of the macadamia market pie.
The onus is now on AFA, the Nuts and Oil Crops Directorate (NOCD), the Kenya Bureau of Standards, and several other national government agencies to scale macadamia production, ensure quality products, and protect smallholder farmers’ interests.
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“Whatever help we can get from the top would go a long way to help these farmers. We’re in dire need of quality seedlings and a factory within the county. If we get that, the smallholder farmers will be pulled out of poverty,” said Mr Gideon Mwasingo.
Fortunately, the national government is already addressing the challenges of climate change, poor Good Agricultural Practices (GAP), use of poor macadamia varieties, immature harvesting, and lack of access to affordable inputs through AFA and Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO).