Taita Taveta County in Kenya is set to increase macadamia production in its quest for a food-secure county.
With extension support from the national government and county government, macadamia farming acreage in the county is set to increase from the current 300 hectares with a yield of 300, 000tonnes annually to 2000 hectares by the close of 2022.
“We’re working hard to see macadamia farming become another reliable and sustainable stream of income for our farmers, who are moving away from the traditional maize crop. We’ve received support in a range of areas from the national government and donor-funded organizations and with that, we aim to increase macadamia farming acreage from the current 300 hectares to 2, 000 hectares by the close of this year,” said the County Executive Committee Member in charge of Agriculture, Fisheries and Irrigation, Davis Mwangoma.
At the center of this revolution are smallholder farmers who have not only cast away the unreliable maize farming but are also taking up the macadamia challenge with seriousness? At an event graced by national and county government officials and Food Agricultural Organization (FAO) delegation, thousands of macadamia farmers gathered to launch what would become the county’s biggest macadamia cooperative society.
“We’re taking a bold step into the future of small-scale macadamia farmers not only with the launch of this society but also in terms of the support we’ll give them. We welcome the national government, county government, NGOs, and other well-wishers to walk with us on this journey,” said Gideon Mwasingo, the vice-chair, and coordinator of the Taita Taveta Macadamia cooperative society limited.
Macadamia does not only fit the bill of a climatic adaptive crop but also has its name engraved on the list of high-value products with a potential to generate income, create job opportunities, and become a pedestal for economic growth at the grassroots. Kenya is punching above her weight by landing the third spot in macadamia production globally with a market share of 13%.
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In 2018, a macadamia kernel export fetched Sh1, 380 per kilogram, making it the second most lucrative agricultural export after tea. The prices keep getting better with an increased global demand for macadamia. The traditional market for Kenya’s macadamia used to be Europe, but the entry of China into the market space is a positive sign of better days ahead.
The increased production and the ever-expanding market opens up opportunities for Kenyans in the value-addition chain of macadamia and have the potential to diversify product and add to Kenya’s bag of exports.