Nut traders and processors have rejected the Sh170 per kilo price of macadamia set by growers.
On February 15, the Agriculture Food Authority (AFA) lifted a November freeze on harvesting the nuts but processors have not started buying saying the crop is not mature enough to attract good global prices.
The Macadamia Farmers Association of Kenya last week announced a farm-gate price of Sh170 per kilo after a meeting with AFA officials.
But the Nuts Processors Association of Kenya (NutPAK) said the price was speculative considering the low quality of the nuts being harvested and the fact that key buyers were yet to set foot on the ground.
“We expect nuts in most catchment areas to fully mature by mid next month. Those who are buying them now are selecting only mature nuts, a move that will leave farmers with huge post-harvest losses,” NutPAK executive officer Charles Muigai said in a telephone interview.
Head of Nuts and Oil Crops Directorate at AFA Richard Ndegwa also disassociated the authority from the new price.
“We were in a meeting with the growers and we were clear that it was not our business to dictate farm-gate prices although we also discourage exploitation of farmers,” Mr Ndegwa said.
Nut Traders Association of Kenya (Nutak) chairman Johnson Kihara said nuts being harvested were of low quality and were not worth the Sh170 farmers were demanding. “We were ready to buy them at even Sh300 a kilo but AFA does not control quality as expected.
“We cannot buy low quality nuts at such a price because we will not get a market for them,” he said.
Mr Muigai said that farmers and buyers of nuts should find common ground.
“We do not mind paying more but we are keen on the quality of the nuts,” Mr Muigai said, adding that the price will finally be dictated by forces of supply and demand.
The local macadamia market is largely dis-organised and has over the years suffered from exploitation by middlemen.
Global demand for the nuts has risen over the years. “We sell over 98 percent of our macadamia to global markets. Our buyers dictate quality.
“If we don’t adhere to best practices in this highly competitive market we will be edged out,” Mr Muigai said in an earlier interview.