The Taita Taveta County Government has purchased over 8,500 macadamia seedlings to be distributed free of charge to farmers to boost their income.
The free seedlings will be given to farmers through the department of Agriculture in order to boost their income.
Speaking in Mwatate on Wednesday during the seedling distribution exercise, Daudi Mghalu, a macadamia seedlings nursery farmer said macadamia farming promises good income and was not as labour intensive as with other crops.
He added that currently he had over 800 seedlings ready for planting from which he expects to fetch a fortune if he sells the produce at the anticipated sale of shs.180 per kilo once the nuts matures.
“We are adopting this crop because we know it is going to be beneficial to us,” he said.
A farmer from Ngerenyi area, Ms. Agneta Wakanga said she had harvested over 500kgs for over seven years since she invested in the crop.
She urged the county government to find a good buyer to avoid farmers falling prey to macadamia brokers who were exploiting local farmers.
While giving his speech, the County Executive Committee Member for Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries, Davis
Mwangoma, said the county was committed to empowering farmers to earn substantial monies from their crops.
He disclosed that the county government plans to increase the acreage under Macadamia crop from the current 270 hectares to over 1, 000 hectares to improve the tree cover in the farms.
“An acre can hold up to 40 macadamia trees which can yield over 100-kgs. With good care, a farmer can make sh.600, 000 after the fifth year of planting,” he said.
Ms. Lilian Lang’at, an official from Food Agricultural Organisation (FAO), challenged the county government to set
regulations which will shield farmers from being exploited by brokers.
She advised the county government to support farmers form groups which will be linked with processing companies to buy their produce at a good price.
Over 1,400 farmers have benefited from the free macadamia seedlings with each receiving seven seedlings.
The county will set aside more funds in the financial year 2019/2020 to ensure that every farmer gets macadamia seedlings for their farms.
By Edith Munyoki/Michael Opondo