Kenya: Farmers Ditch Coffee For Macadamias
Farmers in the Kenyan counties of Nyeri and Murang’a are increasingly turning to macadamia nuts due to poor profits from the coffee market.
Farmers in the central counties have made the switch after frustrations with coffee farming. They say the returns aren’t high enough to cover their basic needs while the situation is only made worse by delays in receiving payment.
Macadamia farming more lucrative
The key difference for farmers making the switch is the higher returns that macadamia farming promises in the current business environment. Some farmers in Nyeri say coffee only returns Sh30-Sh50 per kilo while macadamias can reach highs of Sh80.
Some farmers in Murang’a have boasted profits of just over Sh50 per kilo but switching to macadamias has boosted returns up to Sh80-Sh150 for some farmers in the county. Murang’a farmer Teresia Wairimu told The Star that she abandoned coffee altogether after she harvested 7,000 kilos of macadamia from 100 trees last year.
Coffee’s high production costs
Wairimu cites the high production cost of coffee as the main reason for poor returns on farming the produce.
“The discrepancy between the prices and the cost incurred while farming made me shun coffee farming. There is a ready market for macadamia,” she told The Star.
Farmers say middlemen have made it impossible for them to make a fair living out of coffee farming. Macadamia nuts, on the other hand, are in high demand and relatively low in supply, giving farmers who switch a fresh advantage in the market.
Macadamia buyers are said to visit the farms themselves to harvest and weigh the nuts, after which they pay for the produce on the spot. This is in stark contrast to coffee buyers who work through middlemen and a process that often incurs lengthy payment delays.