Macadamia processors halt operations citing low quality of nuts

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Operations in macadamia processing plants have been stopped following low quality of delivered nuts.

The processors have decried immature nuts being supplied by farmers, saying the nuts do not meet export standards.

Members of Nuts Processors Association of Kenya (NPAK) have accused Agriculture Food Authority (AFA) of directing harvesting of macadamia from February 15, saying at that time most of the nuts are not mature.

Nutpak has proposed the operations to resume in April expecting to get quality nuts from the farmers.

Last year, AFA issued a directive stating that macadamia harvesting be halted from November 30 to February 15 so as to curtail harvesting of immature nuts.

Low quality macadamia had caused processors huge losses as most of supplied nuts cannot meet export standard requirements.

Processors who met in Kandara, Murang’a County on Wednesday noted that farmers have also proposed a price of Sh. 170 per kilo of nuts complaining the amount to be unrealistic.

“Since February 15, farmers have been delivering their nuts to our plants but unfortunately the nuts are of low quality and they also demand high prices which are not manageable,” NPAK Chief Executive Officer, Charles Muigai said.

Mugai accused AFA of failing to streamline macadamia sector, saying brokers have invaded the sector leading to harvesting of immature nuts.

He added that there is need for all stakeholders in the sector to observe all regulations governing the sector so as to save the country from being locked out in the international market.

“AFA should involve farmers when coming up with strategies to streamline the nuts sector and ensure they will be part of the value chain to ensure they harvest mature nuts as recommended,” added the CEO.

He continued “good leadership in the sector is needed to ensure all players are involved in every stage of value chain of macadamia to ensure best quality is attained and our macadamia fetch better prices in the international markets.”

The CEO said that the processors are taking stock to ensure when they re-open they produce high quality nuts for export purposes.

The  Interim Director at  AFA, Antony Mureithi when contacted said there is need for order in the sector to ensure only mature nuts are harvested.

“There is an enforcement and compliance unit in AFA charged with responsibility to ensure the players abide by the rule of law and those dealing with immature nuts are punished,” said Mureithi.

Recently, Nut Traders Association of Kenya called for delay in harvesting of macadamia, saying by February the nuts are not mature.

The Association’s Chairman, Johnson Kihara in a recent press release proposed macadamia to be harvested from mid-March so as to ensure mature nuts reach processors.

By  Bernard  Munyao

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