Kiambu macadamia farmers decry low prices
A group of Macadamia farmers from Kiambu county have vowed to continue storing the crop produce until its market price stabilizes.
The farmers drawn from Gatundu North, South and Githunguri constituencies said that since the onset of Covid-19, brokers and nut processors have been buying the crop at throw-away prices giving them zero returns.
Led by Joram Mwangi, the farmers who spoke during a training organized by Jungle Nuts, a macadamia nuts processing company in Thika town said they have so far stored the nuts in tonnes and were not ready to sell them until the market price changes in their favour.
The low prices of nuts precipitated by the global pandemic, they said, has given middlemen a field day with most brokers now out to make a kill from the farmers desperation.
“I am a small-scale nuts farmer but since I ventured into the farming business, I have never experienced low-returns from the crop like now. It has been tough for me to even think of selling the nuts for as low as Sh 30 per kilo. This has never happened before,” Mwangi who hails from Gatundu North said.
The farmers said that during normal seasons, the produce pays them better than other commercialized crops vowing to remain still until the current market crisis stops.
“Macadamia nut farming was almost overtaking tea and coffee farming as the top income earner but since Covid-19 knocked, things went South,” Damaris Muthoni, a farmer said.
On his part, Jungle Nuts CEO Patrick Wainaina who addressed farmers during the training echoed that the global economic disruption occasioned by the killer virus has hit the macadamia trade hard.
Since the first case of Covid-19 was reported in the country in March, Wainaina decried that nuts prices drastically reduced from Sh 200 to Sh 60 as at last month giving farmers a raw deal.
While urging farmers to exhibit a little patience to allow the market to stabilize, Wainaina said that processors are as well hit and are struggling to find favorable markets globally.
“Farmers are suffering and so are processors. We are all hit by the global pandemic that almost brought the macadamia trade to a halt. This will however be better in the coming months and I urge farmers to be a little patient,” he said.
The nuts farming offers an important source of income for producers worldwide and especially for smallholder farmers in the country.
Kenya is currently one of the top macadamia producers globally, with a global market share of 13 percent (7,750 tonnes on kernel basis).