Macadamia nuts processors have been warned against purchasing raw nuts from farmers.
Agriculture and Food Authority interim director general Alfred Busolo said this was affecting the export market in Kenya which is at Sh3 billion annually.
Speaking on Monday during a media brief on the current situation of macadamia nut farming in Kenya, Busolo said cases of immature harvesting of nuts had led the rejection of at least 10 percent of harvest at the factory.
We are losing close to Sh600 million from the immature harvesting and this is likely to double this year if farmers do not stop the harvesting habit , he said.
Busolo warned that those found exporting the immature macadamia will face the full force of the law .
Initially the law has not been so stringent , but Busolo said a drafted a bill was being developed and once passed offenders will be liable to a fine of Ksh 5 million for every consignment and their licenses revoked .
We are working with KRA and Nation Police Service to ensure that processors comply and abide by the law so that only the mature nuts are retrieved especially during the month of February , he added.
Kenya produces 30,000 metric tones only against a processing capacity of 90,000 metrics tones, Busolo said and called on processors to engage or contract farmers to produce more in order to utilize the capacity.
He said for the last five years, the price of macadamia had been on an upward trend of S70 per kg but urged the middle men not to exploit the farmers but pay them well.
We have an upsurge in estate plantation of macadamia and this will increase the production of macadamia in the country and with 95 percent of the local production being exported, we are projecting an increase of 70,000 metric tonnes from the current production of 30,000 metric tonnes, he said.
He noted that the upward trend of S70 in the last five years was likely to increase as there was a high demand of the product in the export market.
Raymond Kahindi, interim head of nuts and oil crops directorate said last year, they planted about 500,000 macadamia seedlings.
We expect an increase of 30,000 metric tonnes to 70,000 metric tonnes after five years once the seedlings have matured he said.
Kahindi added that so far, Central was leading in macadamia production but there was a lot of potential in North Rift areas of Nandi and Uasin Gishu County. There are about four varieties of macadamia nuts in the country specific for different regions.
Source: Kenya News Agency