Kenyan nut farmers are being swindled

Unripe cashew nuts at a farm in Kwale County. Photo/ELKANA JACOB
Unripe cashew nuts at a farm in Kwale County. Photo/ELKANA JACOB

Small-scale macadamia farmers want to be allowed to access the Chinese market (see P15).

They have a case — they are being swindled. They are being paid around 20 per cent of the world price. In Kenya a macadamia farmer gets around Sh100 per kilo, while in Australia a farmer gets Sh500.

In 2015 the government banned the export of unprocessed macadamia and cashew nuts.

The noble idea was to create ‘value addition’ in Kenya by allowing Kenya nut processors to buy the crop. But the Kenya processors don’t have the financial muscle to buy 35,000 tonnes of macadamia annually.

So there is no competition to buy the nuts. Supply exceeds demand and the price falls. The nut processors win and the farmer loses. That is not right.

The government should liberalise the nut market and allow the export of unprocessed nuts. Macadamia and cashew nut farmers will instantly get three or four times as much for their crop as they do today. They will then grow more, export more and Kenya will become richer.

Quote of the day: "I'm gonna sing, and I'm going to make me a lot of money."

Sam Cooke

The American singer died on December 11, 1964.