The collapse of the coffee crop has led to farmers exploiting other farming ventures to fill the financial gap. One of the best ways of fixing this mess is macadamia farming which has proved to be a lucrative business.
The observed decline in coffee production among smallholder farmers is due to a number of factors, including the collapse of the International Coffee Agreement (ICA) in the 1980s, lack of access to credit, inadequate transportation and communication, poor banking infrastructure and poorly managed cooperatives.
Many coffee farmers operate at a loss, with their beans earning about $0.55 per kilogram, according to a report last year by London-based advocacy group Fair Trade.
Liberalization of the coffee sector resulted in decreased production of coffee. The reasons cited for the decline in coffee production included:- the mismanagement of co-operative societies; declining farmers’ earnings; decline in application of inputs; poor farming practices; and farmers’ loss of confidence in management of coffee affairs.
Farmers are being swayed by the prompt and better pay from macadamia nuts compared to coffee, which, apart from low returns, is labour-intensive and requires a lot of care.
“I have had people come here and openly bid for my macadamia harvest. I pick the highest bidder, and get my pay instantly. This is not the case with coffee; I have to wait for months to receive pay and I have no say in what I get paid as the deductions are done at the factory,” these are words from Gikondi , Mukurweini farmer called Ngigi when he was being interviewed by a standard newspaper reporter.
According to Oxfarm Ltd, an acre of land will hold to 70 Macadamia trees. This could earn a farmer, going by the minimal returns of Ksh150 per kilogram of nuts Ksh1, 050,000 per acre if a farmer harvests 100Kg per tree, depending on farming practices and favorable climate. At the primary harvest, that comes 3 years after transplantation of seedlings, a farmer will get between 30kg and 50kg, reckoning on the range and the attention given to the trees. Production will increase with each harvest.
In coffee farming the returns in an acre are very low and incomparable to macadamia earnings. Coffee farmers are earning peanuts and have been plunged in cooperative debts for years. Here at Oxfarm we do advise farmers on how to establish a macadamia plantation by intercropping with coffee and get relieved off the colonial crop which has made our hardworking farmers poor and poorer.
To order certified grafted macadamia variety seedling contact 0706 222 888.