Macadamia farming is a lucrative venture that many farmers are beginning to get into. The increasing demand and good prices of macadamia nuts make it an ideal venture for low-income earners.
Macadamia farming has attracted a large number of farmers and it’s proving to be a profitable business venture for them. The increasing demand and high profits realized in macadamia nut farming make it an ideal business for low-income farmers.
How to make macadamia Farming a profitable venture
Different ways can be employed ton make macadamia a profitable venture. These include;
Planting high-quality seedlings
Grafted, high-quality seedlings produce more yields per tree when proper farming techniques are employed. This incorporates utilizing the available resources, land, and manpower. For instance, a grafted macadamia tree can produce an average of 180kg in one season fetching you Ksh 27,000 when one kg is going for 150 shillings. You can imagine the amount of money you will get when you have 100 trees.
Lack of skills and sufficient information on how to grow macadamia is the biggest challenge facing macadamia farming. Lack of information makes farmers produce low-quality nuts and in the process suffering financial losses.
Eliminate middlemen by forming groups and cooperatives
Other sectors such as tea and coffee were filled with middlemen who buy the produce from farmers at low prices. Formation of member-run cooperatives and groups that are responsible for marketing the macadamia produce and hence farmers will be able to fetch good prices for their nuts.
What are the challenges that macadamia farming face
Seasonality of the harvest
Insufficient quantities of unprocessed nuts and seasonality of harvest are one of the challenges that macadamia farmers face. Seasonality makes farmers unable to meet the increasing demand for nuts resulting in high competition from other countries. Macadamia farmers need to expand their production units which are possible through the provision of affordable, grafted seedlings.
The exportation of unprocessed nuts in Kenya was banned in 2009. Unfortunately, there are still unscrupulous traders who export unprocessed nuts to international markets such as China. This poses competition to processors who export processed nuts and this creates a competitive space in the international market. Previously, China was one of the main markets of Kenyan and South African macadamia nuts. Unfortunately, they have started planting macadamia trees and hence relying on the Chinese market is unsustainable.
Lack of quality seedlings
The majority of farmers grow native macadamia varieties that use a lot of resources, manpower and time but produce low yields. Low-quality seedlings perform poorly regardless of the topology, rainfall, and soil composition. Farmers should shift to grafted varieties and purchase high-quality seedlings from certified sellers since they have a short maturity period and provide high-quality nuts.
Taking to market unripe produce
This is common when the demand for macadamia is high and local production cannot meet the demand. Shipping unripe and unprocessed nuts makes farmers lose money especially when shipping to Asian markets like China. Harvesting immature nuts mainly happen when farmers beat the nuts off the tree. These days, buyers have an effective grading mechanism and they can easily separate immature nuts from the mature ones. On most occasions, they reject the unripe nuts and the loss borne to the farmer. If they buy the immature nuts, they average the prices and hence farmers are unable to enjoy the competitive prices.
When the demand for macadamia is high, farms are sometimes raided by thieves. In some regions, macadamia farms go to the extent of seeking for armed security from police officers.
Selling through brokers, instead of through direct contracts
Brokers have dominated the nut industry. Most processors buy nuts through brokers and hence farmers are unable to enjoy the competitive prices of macadamia nuts.
More and more farmers enter into macadamia farming
Over the past few years, more farmers have ventured into macadamia farming because of several factors such as;
Low returns in other sectors
Previously, coffee and tea were the leading export crops. Unfortunately, the changing global economy and middlemen have made the once-lucrative venture to shrink, with farmers incurring losses. In some regions, farmers have already started clearing their coffee bushes to create space for macadamia trees.
Nuts can be used in various forms such as in the production of oil for cosmetic and pharmaceutical use, consumed raw, or added to food items.
Reuse and waste reduction
Macadamia husks can act as fuel reducing the usage of charcoal and firewood.
Macadamia matures within a short period but acts as a lifetime investment since they last for a couple of decades.Grafted macadamia seedlings mature within 2 years and have a high productivity rate. Non-grafted seedlings take 5 years to mature.
Value addition of Macadamia
In Kenya, instead of adding value locally and exporting finished products, we sell raw macadamia losing a big opportunity. For instance, importers buy raw nuts in Kenya and use them to add value to chocolate. They then export macadamia-chocolate at a higher price making them earn more money than the raw nuts they bought from Kenya. Farmers can form processing plants, add value to other products such as chocolate and then export them as finished products. For instance, they can use nuts to manufacture oil for pharmaceutical and cosmetic products, detergents, and adding value to foodstuffs such as chocolate and cakes. This way, they can enjoy 100 percent profit from their nuts.
Market Analysis of Macadamia nuts
Previously, the macadamia industry was dominated by middlemen who fetched a high percentage of hard-earned macadamia farmers’ profits. Currently, there are more than 27 certified and licensed processors who buy the nuts from farmers directly and hence eliminating middlemen. These processors also offer advice and financial services to farmers hence shielding them against losses and exploitation. Farmers should, however, be careful since some people come and purchase their nuts at low prices either due to the desperation or ignorance of the farmer and export them at high prices.
The market for Kenyan nuts is quite broad, spanning from local to international. The diversified use of macadamia nuts facilitates a wide range of market opportunities. Kenya has managed to tap the Chinese market where the demand for macadamia has been increasing. The demand has also been increasing in Europe, Asian countries and America. Due to the high demand, prices of macadamia nuts have risen even up to KES 180 per kilo. Coffee berries, on the other hand, have been retailing at KES 55 per kilo, prices which as incomparable to those of macadamia.For the All type of Fruit tree seedlings We at oxfarm we do propagate and sell quality certified seedlings to farmers at the best prices for each seedling as above. We also assist in establishment of orchards and for all types of fruit trees. In order to learn more visit our demo farm at ridge ways Kiambu road or in Nyeri. Contact 0706222888 To get directions Call/Text/ WhatsApp us on 0706222888