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Farmers decry ban on harvesting of Macadamia

Scores of farmers have expressed their displeasure after Agricultural Food Authority (AFA)A imposed ban on period of harvesting macadamia between November and February.

Farmers from Mount Kenya region complain that the ban will subject them to huge losses saying their macadamia were ready for harvest.

They observed that the ban issued in October 2018 will deny them lucrative ready market from Chinese buyers.

The AFA issued a ban prohibiting farmers from harvesting their macadamia between November 30 and February 15, 2019 saying by then the nuts will be immature.

The Authority in the circular issued to macadamia farmers and dealers stated that harvesting of immature nuts leads to poor quality of macadamia meant for export.

The farmers on the other hand have accused the authority of being used by local processors who want to buy their nuts at meager pay.

Led by Erick Mwirigi, Peter Njamba and Annie Wangechi, the farmers decried the conduct of AFA enforcement team of arresting them and disregarding the presence of county governments in nut growing areas.

They argued that the ban had adversely affected them as they accused the regulator of working to protect a few processors, who fear being locked out of the market while there are on holiday.

The representatives from Meru, Murang’a and Nyeri claimed the ban was selectively imposed as some processors were in operation with knowledge of the regulator and no action has been taken.

“We are faced by many needs which need money but we cannot sell our macadamia after AFA issued the ban,” said Mwirigi.

Mwirigi said the ban was negatively affecting small scale farmers who rely on brokers to market their macadamia.

The farmers appealed to respective county governments to come to their rescue and save them from manipulation by AFA, who they claim has a soft spot for some processors.

Speaking to KNA on Monday, they said the authority should stop intruding into domains of county governments, as they appeal to governors, parliamentarians, senators and MCAs to come to their rescue.

One of the farmers, Wangechi accused the authority of blatantly ignoring presidential directive on export of nuts and avocados saying AFA has failed to assist local traders venture into the ready international market.

In a rejoinder, an official of the authority who sought anonymity said the ban was uniform with none of the players favoured.

He added that the ban was issued after it was realized some farmers were harvesting immature nuts thus not meeting required quality for export.

“The ban followed resolutions arrived at when stakeholders held a conference in 2015, to help shape the sector, and not to compromise quality of the commodity for export,” noted the official.

By Bernard Munyao

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