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Value addition of Macadamia Nuts and Why we should embrace it

Macadamia nuts

The consumption of macadamia nuts in Asia, America, and Europe is positive and the demand has been increasing constantly. This has been fuelled by the increasing interest in healthy eating. Macadamia nuts are a source of vitamins, fibre, minerals, protein, and unsaturated fats. They are considered to be rich in iron, vitamin A, niacin, folates, thiamine and riboflavin. Raw macadamia nuts are not produced in Europe and hence most countries are forced to import.

Why we should sell value-added products

Value added products cost higher than raw macadamia nuts. For instance, importers buy raw nuts importers buy raw nuts and use them to add value chocolate and then export the macadamia-chocolate at a higher price. This way, they earn more money than the raw nuts they imported from Kenya. Farmers should aim at forming groups and coming up with processors whereby they can process their nuts to add value to other products and export value added products. This way they can manage to fetch more money than when they sell raw nuts. Currently, there are more than 27 certified and licensed processors who buy the nuts from farmers directly.

Consumption

The consumption of nuts in Europe, Asia and America is increasing at a rate of 19percent. Previously, the demand for macadamia was lower due to low harvest of macadamia nuts in various parts of the country which resulted to a decrease in consumption.

In Europe, Germany is largest consumer of macadamia, which consumed 1870 tonnes and a consumption of 116 grams of nuts per capita in 2016. Luxembourg was the largest consumer of macadamia nuts per capita due to its processing facilities consuming 1.4 kg per capita. Other major consumers of macadamia nuts in Europe are Spain, Italy, and United Kingdom. In Asia, China and Japan are the largest consumers of macadamia nuts products.

In Europe, the consumption of macadamia nuts is seasonal reaching a peak in winter months, and the consumption reduces towards the summer.

Value addition of macadamia nuts

The consumer demand of gluten-free, natural, and vegan food, especially in Europe and Asia creates opportunities for exporters in Kenya. Farmers have a guaranteed market for their produce hence they can venture into macadamia farming with confidence. However, exported produce should meet all the requirements for the international market, be free from pests, and adhere to corporate standards.

In Kenya, instead of adding value locally and exporting finished products, we sell raw macadamia losing a big opportunity. The global macadamia nuts market has expanded especially after the application of the nuts in personal care, food & beverage, and others. The food & beverage sector accounts for the largest share in the global nuts market due to the extensive use of nuts in culinary segments, dairy and frozen desserts, bakery, and confectionery. These days, macadamia are used to add value to breakfast biscuits, chocolate products, breakfast cereals, macadamia nut butter, cakes, and breakfast biscuits. There is also widespread use of macadamia oil in personal care and cosmetic products such as shampoos, lotions, and moisturizers due to high palmitoleic acid and natural antioxidant properties. 

Macadamia nuts enjoy a good reputation in among Asian and European consumers. The consumption of nuts is expected to increase in the cosmetic and snack segment. In European countries, macadamia are regarded as a healthy alternative of junk food such as extruded snacks and crisps and healthier than peanuts.

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More and more farmers enter into macadamia farming

Macadamia farming has proven to be a profitable venture, and many farmers in the country have started to grow macadamia trees. The high profits and increasing demand for macadamia nuts have made nut farming an ideal venture even for low-income farmers. Increased small scale production has made Kenyan macadamia nuts to gain recognition globally. Over the past few years, more farmers have ventured into macadamia farming because of several factors such as;

Low returns in other sectors

Previously, cash crops such as tea and coffee were the leading exports in the country. However, due to the high number of middlemen and the changing economy, the once-lucrative venture shrank and farmers ended up making losses. When coffee farming was profitable, farmers planted macadamia trees to provide shade to their coffee plants. Today, most farmers have shifted to more profitable crops with most of them venturing into macadamia farming. In some regions, farmers have started clearing their coffee bushes to pave way for macadamia. For instance, the prices of macadamia nuts in 2018 rose to KES 180 per kilo in 2018 and part of 2019. Compared to crops such as maize that were going for even KES 20 per kilo and coffee which was going for about KES 55 per kilo, the prices of nuts can be considered incomparable. Close to September, the prices rose to KES 200 per kilo. The attractive prices were fuelled by the high demand in the international market.

Lower yields in other sectors

Compared to other crops such as coffee, macadamia produces more yields. For instance, one acre can accommodate up to 70 macadamia trees. One tree can produce up to 100kgs of nuts. With a price of KES 160, a farmer with 70 trees can make about 1,120,000 per year. Other crops such as tea, coffee, and maize can barely reach this figure, considering their high cost of production. However, farmers should adhere to the right farming methods to achieve optimum benefits.

Versatility and Ready Market For Macadamia Farming

Previously, the macadamia nut industry was dominated by middlemen who took a large number of farmers’ profits. However, with about 27 licensed processors that buy nuts directly from farmers, farmers are well cushioned against losses and exploitation. Kenyan nuts are popular in the local and international markets due to their crunchy nature. This has ushered fierce competition among raw nut exporters, local, and foreign roasters. The demand for macadamia nuts is high in Europe and Asia and hence there is always a ready market for Kenyan nuts. However, for farmers to get higher returns, Kenya should encourage investments in value addition. The global market has expanded due to the application of nuts in cosmetic and pharmaceutical products, food, and beverages. In the food & beverage sector, nuts can be used in confectionery, dairy and frozen desserts, bakery, and culinary segments. In cosmetic and personal care products, they can be used to add value to lotions, shampoos, and moisturizers.

Short maturity and last longer

Macadamia trees are a lifetime investment that matures within a short time. Grafted seedlings mature within 2 years and have a high productivity rate. These trees produce high yields for a couple of decades unlike other crops such as maize which last only a few months.

Reuse and waste reduction

Macadamia husks can act as fuel in rural and urban areasreducing the usage of charcoal and firewood.

Kenyan farmers have experienced poor prices and losses of their produce and hence most of them shifting to other streams of income. With the development of macadamia farming, farmers can smile again. Macadamia trees require little maintenance unlike other crops such as coffee but fetch high profits. Farmers should consider planting grafted seedlings that mature fast. However, farmers should ensure that they get grafted seedlings from certified nurseries. As the macadamia industry grows, more farmers should venture into the lucrative business to help meet the increasing demand and enjoy high prices.

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Common Questions and Answers About Macadamia Farming In Kenya

Macadamia farming in Kenya has taken shape and farmers especially in central region have taken it seriously.

1. How long does Macadamia trees take to produce nuts?

There are several varieties of Macadamia grown in Kenya. However, a grafted tree will usually start to produce in its 3rd or 4th year after planting. The common varieties include Kiambu 3 & 4, Meru 23 & 24, Taita Taveta 1 & 2, Kirinyaga 15 and Murang’a 20. Depending on your area, you should have reasonable nuts after 7 or 8 years.  A seedling tree that is not grafted will usually not produce nuts until it is 7 to 10 years old.

2. What about tree maintenance?

Macadamias are a low maintenance tree and will grow in almost any soil type, as long as it is not water logged.  It is a forest tree native to Queensland Australia and likes a good mulch.  The main pest in is the green vegetable bug, attacking the young nuts and causing black spots on the nut kernel.  Long grass and seeds are known to harbor these bugs, keeping grass short or having it grazed by sheep and poultry will help.

More recently the guava moth has also become a problem pest with pheromone traps and spraying the only solution at the moment.  Organic growers and the majority of smaller growers take the risk of loosing some of their crop, in a bad year up to 30% by not spraying.  If you decide to spray, then 3 times a season will do the job, starting 3 weeks after flowering at intervals of about 3 weeks.

3. Can macadamias be pruned?

Yes, but be aware there are 2 types of trees, Droppers and stickers and pruning varies for each type.

Macadamias will stand quite heavy pruning.  The aim when pruning is to keep the tree to a manageable height (3 to 4 meters).  Do this by cutting strong leaders out of a sticker type tree or pruning the outside of a dropper variety.  This will open up the interior of the tree to light, air and bees to help with pollination, particularly because Macadamias tend to flower into the center of the tree.

In short, keep the tree low and open on the inside to aid pollination and to make picking easier.  Reduce multiple forks to a maximum of two to avoid the incidence of wind damage.

4. When are macadamia in Kenya ready for picking?

For varieties which do not drop their nuts, the simplest way is to look at the lining of the husk after the shortest day of the year.  When the lining has turned deep brown, to about the same color as the nut inside, the crop is ready for picking.  Depending on the weather and position of the trees this can be as late as April.  Beware, trees can drop (abort) quite a lot of nuts if stressed by drought, these nuts will be immature and can be mistaken as ripe.

Earn more than 10 million per acre with 40k investment.

5. What to do after picking

Below are a few things you should do after picking. However, in Kenya most companies will buy the nuts while still at the tree and they will carry them to the processing plant.

  • Remove the husks preferably within 24 to 48 hours of picking.
  • Bag the fresh nuts in 10kg onion sacks and hang them in an airy and shaded position (open carport is ideal), for a 3 month minimum.  Hang them out of the reach of rats and mice who love chewing through them.  During drying the nuts will loose about 15% of their weight.
    Larger or Commercial growers will tend have a drying room with heat up to 350C lots of air movement and dehumidifiers operating.
  • Once dry, store them on or near the hot water cylinder for a minimum of 3 weeks.  The additional weight loss after this drying will be approximately 10% (a dehumidifier can be very helpful).
    Larger growers will have dried them to below 3% moisture in their drying rooms ready for cracking as required.
  • Once fully dry and ready for cracking (less then 3% moisture) .  The kernel will ideally be rattling in the shell and above all, will be crunchy and sweet.

The above process is meant for those who plant macadamia for own consumption. However, commercial macadamia farmers who intend to make money sell their nuts to companies such as Jungle nuts, Sasini, Kakuzi etc..

6. Do macadamias nuts last long?

All nuts deteriorate over time, however macadamias ‘in shell’ will last for a couple of years in a dark, cool and airy place.  After cracking, the kernels will last for about six months if kept in an airtight and moisture proof container. Larger growers with vacuum seal kernels or Nitrogen purge and pressure seal bags to keep the kernels fresh for a considerable time.

If you have any other questions about macadamia growing please contact us and we will do our best to help you.

 

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Why Kakuzi Ltd is abandoning Pineaple and venturing into hass avocado farming

Kakuzi ltd which is listed in Nairobi exchange and deals in farming is planning an exit on pineapple farming. After growing pineapples for over two decades now, it is signaling a shift in its products. Kakuzi Ltd is increasing acreage under avocados whose demand has skyrocketed globally.

Read: Basic Characteristics of an agri-preneur

Avocados Has Better Profits

Kakuzi Ltd while announcing that decision in March 2018, they also announce a 5.2% increase in net profit to Sh561.6 million for the year ended December 2017. The profit increase according to the company is attributed to the higher international avocado and macadamia prices.

Although the company which owns more than 25,000 acres of land has been growing tea, forestry, livestock , pineapples and other fruits, it has now decided to focus its efforts on growing hass avocado whose returns per-acre are much higher than that of pineapples.

In a statement produced by Kakuzi, the decision was reached to discontinue with fresh pineapple operation in favor of planting pinkerton, hass and fuerte avocado varieties.

The  major pineapple producers in Kenya include Kakuzi, Del Monte’s in Thika and Ndemo farm in Kilgoris. For the years now, Kakuzi has become synonymous with the crop.

While some of its harvest is exported to countries such as France, Germany, Italy, Belgium and the Netherlands – mostly in canned form – Kakuzi has always sold its produce in the local market. The fruit is also used to make concentrate for juice products.

Read: How to make Silage for your Dairy Cows in Kenya

Hass Avocados and Macadmia Nuts

Over the past several years, macadamia and avocado have become choice crops for agricultural firma in Kenya with Kakuzi, Sasini and other major players reaping heavily.

In 2017, according to their statement, the company closed with 1,500 acres of land under avocado from which it harvested 7,282 tonnes of fruit. At its peak, Kakuzi had over 120 acres of its own land under pineapple and another 1,100 acres under a joint venture with juice maker Del Monte.

However, in 2017, the company closed with just 60 acres of its land under pineapple and the partnership between Delmonte is set to be terminated in future years.

According to Kakuzi, the increase in profit is as a result of continued market demand for avocado and macadamia throughout the year. The company also attributed profitability within the Tea operations has continued to reflect the difficult trading conditions and significant inflationary pressure on labor and other production costs.

Read: Why You should shift gears to Hass avocado and Macadamia farming

Now you know why we have continually advised you to plant hass avocados and macadamia. If the big boys are shifting, why do you sit there claiming that there is no market, or it will flood.

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Why You should shift gears to Hass avocado and Macadamia farming

Farmers in Kenya have been complaining about market and low prices of their products. Be it maize, beans, coffee, tea or wheat these are common sentiments. This is so because of unpredictable prices, changing weather conditions, and expensive farm inputs.

Organizations and farming companies are offering new farming methods and better options such as Macadamia and Hass avocados.  In areas such as north rift where farmers are known to grow maize, organizations are enlightening farmers on Macadamia farming. The reason NGOs and other interested parties are concerned about North rift is because north rift is because they have fertile extensive lands which they can do large-scale farming.

Sasini, and other companies have invested heavily in North rift where they aim to buy Macadamia nuts and Hass Avocado fruits from farmers.

Hass avocado farming and Macadamia nuts farming is not only a good investment for the farmers but also to the environment as it improves the tree cover. The recommended forest cover in Kenya is 10% while currently its less than 7%.  Another advantage of Macadamia nuts and Hass Avocado is that a farmer will always harvest a fruit as long as he lives and the tree will remain. Unlike planting a tree such as Cyprus or cedar which will be harvested upon maturity.

According to hass avocado and macadamia traders, the market is increasing but there is limitation in production.

Unlike other crops farming, hass and fruit farming does not require much of your time and you can grow them as you still do other things.

Read: How to manage soil to prevent insects and pests

No short cuts for Hass avocado and Macadamia farming

If you are a farmer or you are interested in hass avocado or macadamia nuts farming and you want good production and better prices, don’t cut corners.

How to ensure you increase produce goods fruits, nuts

  • Ensure you plant the right variety (not just avocados or macadamia)
  • Always insist on certified seedlings
  • Maintain good care.

Start with clean and high-quality planting materials for higher yield. You should have known by now that export market requires quality procedure. At Oxfarm, we have quality seedlings (hass avocado and macadamia (Murang’a 20)) that are certified by both HCD and KEPHIS.

Read: Why you shouldn’t Worry about hass avocado Market

Advantages of Grafted Over Non-Grafted hass avocado and Macadamia nuts

  • Grafted do not take too long to mature – they take only 2-3 years to produce fruits while the non-grafted takes 7- 10 years
  • Production is more
  • Grafted trees do not grow as tall as the non-grafted ones

Kenya produces 150, 000 annually where 70% is grown by small-scale farmers. Over time, local market has been the biggest beneficiary but for the last few years things have changed drastically. Farmers are now interested on the export market and have now commercialized and there are more people interested in large scale farming of hass avocado.

Read: How to Boost Your Agribusiness Through Marketing

Don’t be left behind, change gears to tree fruit farming and make money as you still do other things.