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AFA to license more macadamia processors

A proposal to license additional macadamia processors has been met with mixed opinions from macadamia farmers drawn from Mount Kenya region.
Agriculture Food Authority (AFA) has proposed to license six more processors to compete with already 24 existing macadamia dealers.
According to AFA Interim Director, Mr. Antony Muriithi, the authority intends to license the companies, which include African Retail Traders, Nutcracker, Shoprite Checkers Kenya, Maya East Africa, Vegpro Kenya and Sasini Nut EPZ.
In a notice contained in the latest Kenya Gazette, Mr. Muriithi indicated that the six companies sought for licenses through Oil Crop Directorate to process macadamia, coconut, cashew nuts, walnuts and peanuts.
“We have advertised through the Kenya Gazette our intention to issue the players with licenses after they met conditions set by the regulator,” said Muriithi.
With the licensing of new processors, AFA intends to diversify markets for macadamia thus giving farmers competitive prices.
This move, however, comes at a time when players in the macadamia sector are divided over the ban of harvesting the crop between November 30th and February 15th, with those opposing the ban stating that the exercise will compromise the quality of the commodity meant for export.
A section of players in the macadamia sector interviewed read malice on the proposal indicating that the targeted new entrants are part of the leading processors in the country.
Eric Mwirigi, a macadamia farmer from Murang’a, complained that there are only ten active processors in the country, with others being inactive and of no help to farmers.
He claimed that there will be nothing new for farmers as major processors are also owners of the new proposed processors.
Macadamia farmers in recent past have been opting to sell their nuts to Chinese traders who buy the produce in lucrative prices.
“There is need for investigations by the regulator to ensure that it will not register ‘brief case’ companies just for the sake of raising the number of processors,” observed Mwirigi.
AFA has given members of the public 14 days to raise their views on the proposal of licensing the new entrants.
The interim director advised those who will raise objections to clearly state reasons for their objections and provide their contacts.
He further went ahead to clarify that players in the agricultural sector are licensed in line with the laid down procedures.
The move to bring in new macadamia processors comes at a time theft of raw nuts from farms have rocked some parts of Mount Kenya region.
By Bernard Munyao

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