LONG OVERDUE

Lamu cashew farmers call for an end to 14-year export ban

Only the National Cereals and Produce Board can purchase raw nuts from farmers

In Summary
  • Lamu Cashew Growers chairman Mohamed Athmani says the ban has killed the once vibrant sector and destroyed an otherwise economically viable venture.
  • From a previous population of over 10,000 cashew farmers in Lamu, only about 3,000 actively farm the crop.
A cashew nut tree in Mpeketoni, Lamu West.
LIFT EXPORT BAN: A cashew nut tree in Mpeketoni, Lamu West.
Image: CHETI PRAXIDES

@ppcheti

Lamu cashew nut farmers have urged the government to lift a 14-year-old export ban imposed in 2009 to enable the sector to grow.

The ban was to help revive local industries.

However, only the National Cereals and Produce Board has the authority to purchase raw nuts from the farmers.

The ban has left many farmers stuck with bags of produce unable to access a ready and favourable market.

Cashew farmers in Lamu feel the ban caused the near-collapse of the sector.

Major cashew nut growing areas in Lamu include Mpeketoni, Witu and Faza.

The chairperson of the Lamu Cashew Growers Association Mohamed Athmani on Thursday said the ban has killed the once vibrant sector and destroyed an otherwise economically viable venture.

“The ban was meant to promote local markets but what has been happening since 2009 is the exact opposite.

"We have been unable to sell locally and when we do, it’s at a loss. It’s been 14 years and we are asking the government to reconsider,” Athmani said.

From a previous population of over 10,000 cashew farmers in Lamu, only about 3,000 actively farm the crop.

Mpeketoni cashew farmer Samuel Michukia has since abandoned the venture and is now into fruit farming.

“I grow mangoes, melons, bananas and oranges. Their demand is high and the market is available,” Michukia said.

Cashew is the most important cash crop in coastal Kenya. Apart from Lamu, it’s also grown in Kwale, Kilifi, Tana River and Mombasa counties.

The cashew nuts industry, directly and indirectly, employs 4,000 and 50,000 people, respectively.

Other challenges facing the cashew industry in Lamu are poor crop management practices, old unproductive orchards, poor quality of planting materials, high post-harvest losses, prevalence of pests and diseases and poor marketing infrastructure.

(Edited by Bilha Makokha)

Cashewnut bushes in Lamu Island.
LONG OVERDUE: Cashewnut bushes in Lamu Island.
Image: CHETI PRAXIDES
Roasted cashew nuts in Lamu Island.
REVIVE LOCAL INDUSTRIES: Roasted cashew nuts in Lamu Island.
Image: CHETI PRAXIDES