Why Macadamia Farming in Kenya is the Most Profitable Long-Term Investment Avenue

By the end of the macadamia harvesting season in April this year, farmers were enjoying prices as high as Ksh.220 per kg. This is an encouraging price hike but that’s not even the real deal. The potential of the prices doubling or even tripling is a heartwarming possibility considering that in other countries producing macadamia such as South Africa and Australia, farmers get paid between Ksh 400 to Ksh 600 per kg.

Production is increasing, but so is demand and price

By the way, you may think that an increase in the number of people taking up macadamia farming in Kenya would have a negative impact on the price. Surprisingly, the price improvement we are seeing is happening while the production of macadamia in Kenya increases. In 2009, Kenya was producing approximately 11,000 metric tons of unprocessed macadamia. This year, we produced more than 40,000 metric tons.

macadamia farming in kenya
So why are macadamia farmers in Kenya getting better income even with rising volume of production? The answer is in global demand! Demand for macadamia nuts in the world is increasing while the entire world is producing only 200,000 tons of macadamia per year. In the past, most of the produce from Kenya was being exported to the US and Europe. Recently, China has come in providing a greater market for our nuts. In fact, some unscrupulous traders are taking advantage of this high demand for in-shell nuts to illegally smuggle unprocessed macadamia nuts out of Kenya to China.

Macadamia farmers in Kenya are also enjoying ready market, selling directly to processors. There are currently 30 licensed macadamia processing plants in the country.

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Macadamia farming is stress-free

While farmers of such crops as tomatoes, passion fruits, onions and others have had sleepless nights because of pest and disease challenges, macadamia farming in Kenya seems to be rather stress-free. The only major challenge that farmers have faced is powdery mildew, a fungal disease which is easy to control. Other than spraying, annual pruning is the other management practice required for macadamia trees to be productive.

Ecological requirements 

Macadamia grows in a wide range of climatic conditions. The major macadamia farming counties in Kenya are Embu, Meru, Kirinyaga and Tharaka Nithi in the Mount Kenya region and Taita Taveta County in the coastal region. Efforts are now being made to expand to other Counties such as Kisii, Kakamega, Uasin Gishu, Nandi and Elgeyo Marakwet with significant success.

The tree requires a lot of water and manure and it’s advisable to put in place irrigation strategies for areas that experience low rainfall. However, this is not much of an input since one acre accommodates 150 trees of macadamia at a spacing of 5x5 meters. 

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