Macadamia Farming in Kenya: Lucrative Crop making Farmers Rich

Macadamia farming in Kenya

Macadamia nuts farming has become a profitable venture in Kenya, thanks to the increasing demand for macadamia nuts both locally and internationally.

The favorable climate and suitable soil conditions in various regions of the country make it an ideal place for cultivating this lucrative crop.

Ideal Growing Conditions

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Macadamia trees thrive in well-drained, slightly acidic soils with a pH of 5.0 to 6.5. The central regions of Kenya, including Murang’a, Kiambu, Kirinyaga, Embu, and Meru, are renowned for their optimal growing conditions.

These areas receive adequate rainfall ranging from 800 to 1200 mm annually, which supports the growth of macadamia trees.

However, regions with less rainfall, such as Bungoma, Kakamega, and Kitale, can also grow macadamia successfully with proper irrigation.

Varieties and Yield

The Muranga 20 variety is highly recommended for its adaptability to various climatic conditions and its high yield.

Grafted macadamia trees begin fruiting after two years, with significant economic yields starting in the third year. A mature tree can produce up to 100 kilos of nuts per year.

An acre of macadamia trees, holding about 80 trees, can yield approximately 8,000 kilos per harvest. Selling at an average price of Ksh 150 per kilo, a farmer can generate a turnover of Ksh 1.2 million per acre annually.

Cultivation Practices

Proper spacing of 10 by 10 meters between trees is essential to ensure adequate sunlight and air circulation.

Regular pruning and the application of organic manure at least once a year are crucial for maintaining tree health and maximizing yield.

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Additionally, macadamia trees require protection from strong winds, which can be achieved by planting windbreaks around the orchard.

Harvesting and Processing

Harvesting typically occurs from February to June, and it is vital to harvest only mature nuts to maintain quality. Farmers should store the nuts in sisal bags to ensure proper aeration.

Kenya boasts several licensed macadamia processing companies, including Jungle Nuts Limited, Hannjo Nuts Limited, and Equatorial Nut Processors Limited, providing farmers with various market outlets.

Profitability

Despite challenges such as fluctuating market prices and the presence of unscrupulous brokers, macadamia farming remains profitable.

The local market prices for macadamia nuts have been improving, though they still lag behind international prices.

For instance, while Kenyan farmers may sell their nuts for Ksh 230 per kilo, their counterparts in Australia can fetch up to Ksh 600 per kilo.

Marketing Strategies

To overcome marketing challenges, farmers can collaborate with cooperatives to pool their produce, enhancing their bargaining power with processors.

Direct sales to processing factories are preferable to dealing with brokers, ensuring better prices and reliable market access.

In conclusion, macadamia farming in Kenya offers a lucrative opportunity for farmers willing to invest in proper cultivation practices and market strategies.

With the right approach, farmers can reap significant financial rewards from this enduring cash crop.

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