Macadamia prices have more than doubled between January and now following a crackdown on unscrupulous traders and strict licensing of marketers that has restricted the market to high quality nuts.
Data from Nuts and Oil Crops Directorate indicate a kilo of the produce is now selling at between Sh160 and Sh180, up from Sh70 in January.
Director-general of Agriculture and Food Authority (AFA) Alfred Busolo said the removal of unripe nuts from the market had improved quality and pushed up price sharply.
“Farmers are now enjoying good prices following the crackdown that we conducted early in the year to curb harvesting of immature nuts,” said Mr Busolo.
According to the regulator, macadamia farmers have lost Sh680 million in the last one year to processors who harvest immature nuts to cash in on high demand. Processors have been wooing farmers to harvest the nuts and end up rejecting more than 10 per cent of the crop supplied.
Kenya’s macadamia are highly sought after in the world market because of their cruncy nature.
Marketing of nuts has faced challenges since the 1990s on liberalisation of trade, spurring competition between processors and exporters.
Mr Busolo said that AFA was working with other government agencies, such as the police and the Kenya Revenue Authority, to curb smuggling of the raw nuts.
“We have been keen on value addition and creation of jobs, this cannot be achieved if the crop is smuggled,” he said.
The agents, who act as middlemen, have been buying the crop from farmers and then selling to mainly Chinese firms, where hundreds of kilos are rejected.
The move has seen the directorate license marketers, who are now dealing with the processors as opposed to when anyone could trade in the crop.