Politics and policy
High quality of nuts boosts farmers’ pay
Posted Tuesday, July 31 2012 at 20:29
Cashew nut farmers are set for higher returns this year helped by better quality and the ban on export of raw nuts.
In 2011, processors offered farmers as much as Sh58 per kilogramme of raw cashew nuts as the sector, which exports up to 95 per cent of the total produce, reaped from the weakening of the Kenyan shilling.
This year, despite weak demand for cashew nuts in Europe and the US, coupled with a strengthened shilling, Kenyan farmers are leveraging on premium quality nuts that attract higher prices to sustain growth in income.
Furthermore, the June 2009 government ban on export of unprocessed nuts has enhanced the export potential for Kenyan nut processors who are now eying the regional market.
“We are working with farmers to rehabilitate their trees and plant new varieties with high quality yields,” said Charles Muigai, the convenor of Nut Processors Association of Kenya (NutPAK) when the lobby group signed an industry co-operation deal with processors from Tanzania and Mozambique.
The partnership is meant to enhance information sharing, skills transfer, adoption of common quality standards and promote sustainable agricultural practices among the three countries.
Most of the cashew nut trees in Kenya are more than 30- years- old and produce between 1.5 to four kilogrammes of nuts per tree, which are of inferior quality to those from West Africa.
Last year, the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (Kari) station in Mtwapa distributed 200,000 new variety cashew seedlings to farmers in Coast Province in a bid to triple the average yield per tree to about seven kilogrammes per tree.
Kari is working to introduce the drought-resistant crop to other regions such as Tharaka Nithi, where 20,000 seedlings have been given out to farmers in the last one year.