Enforce macadamia ban to end farmers exploitation, state told

Nut Traders Association of Kenya members during a press conference in Murang’a town /FILE
Nut Traders Association of Kenya members during a press conference in Murang’a town /FILE

Traders have called for a full implementation of the ban on harvesting immature nuts to stop exploitation by processors.

The Nut Traders Association of Kenya said the processors were using brokers to buy macadamia at throwaway prices.

In December, the Agriculture Food Authority banned the harvesting of nuts and oil crops between November 30 and February 15 every year to allow them to mature.

The agency said stakeholders had resolved to harvest nuts from mid February up to end of November in a conference held three years ago.

AFA said processors and marketing agents contravening the ban will be arrested.

The ban was aimed at boosting quality of processed nuts for export to improve prices.

NTAK chairman Johnstone Kihara on Saturday said processors were breaching the ban through back-door means.

“They use brokers to entice farmers with quick cash. They know the farmers are desperate for money,” Kihara said.

He said the illegal sale has encouraged theft of macadamia from farms.

Brokers were buying the nuts for as low as Sh70. Macadamia nuts often sell for Sh170. “Farmers should know the ban is an advantage that will give them higher bargaining powers when processors start scrambling for nuts,” Kihara said.

He said he has written to the nuts and oil crops directorate to take action against the those breaching the ban.

Kihara asked the government to consider removing the directorate from AFA, saying the agency has failed to enforce the law as required.

He said his association was still fighting to have section 43 of AFA Act that bans exportation of raw nuts repealed saying it limits marketing opportunities.

The association has previously accused nut processors of compromising policy-makers to ensure the ban stays in place for them to make huge profits.

The ban was enacted in 2013 by the government in a bid to boost value addition but farmers say it has cut links between them and foreign buyers.