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Macadamia farmers up in arms

Murang’a macadamia farmers have protested longstanding abandonment by the government to revive the vanishing crop.

Despite heated campaigns to have it resurge from the knees of collapse, they lamented that the crop was, like coffee, on the verge of losing its taste as they no longer enjoy farming it.

The angry farmers said they have continued to rot in abject poverty as the crop does not yield noteworthy returns, adding that continued deterioration of the crop’s prices has seen a notable percentage of farmers uproot macadamia trees.

They said that the government has denied them necessary farm input such as fertilizer and manure.

Speaking during a sensitisation forum organised by Nuts Traders Association of Kenya (Nutak), the farmers said that the major challenge they were facing was invasion of the sector by dreadful brokers who have been hoodwinking them and consequently purchasing the product at a throw away price. They said that the brokers have been buying immature nuts and have disallowed farmers from exploring better markets.

Led by Joseph Mugera, the farmers also took issue with their parliamentary representatives for disowning the fight to have section 43 of the Agricultural and Food Authority (AFA) abolished.

Macadamia farmers in Murang’a during a sensitisation forum at Kaburugi village in Kandara constituency.
Photo/COURTESY

The regulation states that ‘a person shall not export raw cashewnuts, pyrethrum, bixa, macadamia or any other agricultural product as may be prescribed, except with the written authority of the cabinet secretary abolished.

“I urge the government to abolish the punitive section and allow farmers to privately sell their produce without using the processors channels. We only have three processors in the country and using monopoly of power, the three are the cause of our poverty as they have widely slashed macadamia prices for their self-gains,” said Mugera.

Nahashon Mugi a macadamia agent urged President Uhuru Kenyatta to consolidate the already lucrative USA market and pave way for farmers to privately sell their produce.

“The crop can be revived if the president abolishes all the negative market bureaucracies and if farmers are accorded the necessary support such as provision of farm input,” he said.

He urged the director of criminal investigations George Kinoti to investigate the three macadamia processors in the country, stating that Kenya loses in excess of Sh2 billion to the monopolists.

Nuts Traders Association of Kenya Chairman, Johnson Kihara, said that they have resulted to educating farmers after losing all their court battles and parliamentary petitions seeking to increase the price of the commodity, which recently became a scheduled crop.

He urged the president to initiate a serious and thorough probe against the three processors who he said have been abetting exportation of raw and immature nuts worsening the quality of the product. He decried that while Kenyan farmers enjoyed a price of Sh120 per kilogramme of macadamia, the cost of a kilo was going for Sh450 to Sh550 in South Africa, Rwanda and America.

“The government has the responsibility of providing manure and fertilizers to macadamia farmers but that is yet to be actualized. We want the processors who have been making a kill at the expense of poor farmers to be probe and action taken against them,” said Kihara.

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