Macadamia Nuts Farming In Kenya: How to Make It a Highly Profitable Business


If you have been keen to follow the agribusiness news and trends in Kenya, you must have noted that macadamia nut farming is one investment channel that informed farmers are putting their money into. The local prices of these nuts have been consistently going up and the international market is also expected to grow by at least 12% by 2025.

macadamia nuts farming in Kenya

By the way, macadamia nut prices in Kenya hit a high of Ksh220 in 2019.

That’s a pretty impressive future market outlook for current farmers and anyone who wants to invest in the nuts production in our country. Remember the highest percentage of the nuts we produce here is slightly processed and sold in this international market. That means we are going to benefit directly as the global market expands.

It is so pleasing to see farmers who have abandoned coffee, maize and other crops and gone into macadamia farming smiling; of course because they are now making more money than they were with those earlier crops. However, it is unfortunate that some of these farmers seem not to know that they are actually making much less money than they should.

Most of the small scale macadamia farmers operate below their farm’s potential and can significantly increase their profits if they made a few alterations in their farming models and marketing strategies. I know those two have caught your attention so let’s dive in and look at how to improve them for maximum profit.

Farming models:

1. Select the best macadamia nut variety

It is good if you have trees of the local variety: its name is actually not known and most people identify it for having thorny leaves. But keep in mind the best yield you can get from this variety is 30 kgs per year while those with improved varieties harvest as much as 80 kgs per tree.

The best macadamia variety in Kenya so far is Murang’a 20 (MRG-20) according to Richfarm Kenya. It grows fast, has high yields and most importantly it adapts well to different climatic conditions.

So would I advise you to replace those local trees with the new improved varieties? Certainly YES, and the best way of doing that is by planting the new trees in between the old local ones. Nature the young trees till they start producing, as you prune the bigger trees to avoid overshadowing the young ones. When you start harvesting from the new trees, then you can cut down the old, less productive ones to give room for the improved varieties to expand.

2. Improve pollination

The number of kgs you will harvest from each of your macadamia trees is also directly influenced by the effectiveness of pollination in your farm. There are three important practices that you should observe to improve pollination.
  1. Keep bees on your farm. Look at all successful macadamia farmers in Kenya and you will notice they have at least 1 bee hive on each acre. It is known all across the world that bees are the major agent of pollination for macadamia. According to KALRO, each cluster of macadamia flowers needs at least 150 bee visits to ensure optimum fruit setting. This is the reason why Richfarm Kenya is giving its farmers a free bee hive for every an acre they plant using the company’s services.
    macadamia nuts kenya
  2. Plant more than one variety of macadamia in your farm. The different varieties flower at different times and therefore having many varieties on your farm helps in cross pollination. I have put that in simple terms to save you from the scientific technicalities but you can always talk to us for the details. Some of the best macadamia varieties for intercropping with MRG-20 are EMB-1, KRG-15 and KMB-3.
  3. Protect your trees from strong winds. Strong wind blows away pollen grains from the male parts of the macadamia flower. Unfortunately, the female part of the flower is not wide enough to trap wind-blown pollens. Therefore these valuable pollen grains end up being blown away to waste. How do you protect your macadamia trees from strong winds? Simple, plant thick rows of wind breaker trees.

3. Irrigation and mulching are important in macadamia nut farming

macadamia farmingin Kenya
Mulched macadamia orchard
These trees are evergreen and you will be forgiven to think that they do not need to be irrigated. But for a good harvest, it is important to irrigate the trees especially when they start flowering. On average, the trees require at least 850mm of rainfall well distributed throughout the year. If your area receives less than this, ensure that you supplement through irrigation. You will be having only about 80 trees in an acre so irrigating shouldn’t be much of a challenge.

Marketing strategies:

Marketing is a perennial problem facing macadamia nut farming especially with the presence of crooked brokers in Kenya. Luckily, with the establishment of several macadamia processing factories in various parts of Kenya, you can sell directly to them.

The challenge here would be quantities: if you have very low quantities, you are less likely to be able to negotiate a contract with the processing companies. This is where Richfarm Kenya comes in by helping you to connect with other small holder farmers in your area, put together your produce and thus have a higher bargaining power.

Well there you have it; we might have not covered all you needed but you can always contact us for more information.

4 comments :

Unknown said...

I need to contact one of the major processors. With the corona virus, how and where do I sell my nuts. Iam at kiganjo in Nyeri.

Methi Fresh Macadamia said...

Good information there.

Methi Fresh Macadamia said...

Good information there.

Terry Mwangi said...

This is very informative. Thank you!