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Why Kenya Farmers Are Nuts about Macadamia

Are you a farmer and you have grown tired of planting crops like maize, coffee, and tea that fetch low returns on investment? Here is good news for you …

Majority of Kenyan farmers are beginning to grow macadamia trees, and it’s proving to be a profitable business venture for them. The increasing demand and high profits realized in macadamia nut farming make it an ideal business for low-income farmers.

Macadamia nuts courtesy of Oxfam Kenya

Initially, farmers planted macadamia to provide shade for their coffee bushes. But today, most of them have switched to macadamia nuts farming due to its high prices compared to other cash crops. For example, by December 2018 a Kilo of macadamia nuts was going for Kshs. 160 up to Kshs. 180 depending on the quality of the nuts. This price is way too high compared to crops like maize that go as low as Kshs. 20 per Kilo.

Now, visualize this …

A grafted macadamia tree can comfortably produce 200kg in a season. This means a single macadamia tree could fetch you a cool Kshs 32,000 annually. Sounds like a good deal, right?

Mr. Kihiu 65 years old, retired civil servant from Thandi village in Nyeri county, rakes in a whooping Kshs. 1 million from his two-and-a-half acre piece of land. Before embarking on macadamia farming, Mr. Kihiu was a coffee farmer, but due to fluctuating coffee prices and ubiquitous middlemen in the coffee sector, he decided to venture into his newfound goldmine — Macadamia farming. He continues by saying since he entered into macadamia farming he’s never looked back and he is planning to increase more trees so as to increase his profit margins.

It’s undoubtedly macadamia nut tree is a money-maker crop. Nevertheless, farmers should adhere — religiously — to the right farming practices so as to realize optimum benefits. According to, “an acre of land will hold up to 70 Macadamia trees. If the current price of Kshs. 160 per a kilo of nuts is anything to go by, then an acre of well-planted macadamia trees should earn you up to Kshs. 896,000 yearly.

Grafted Macadamia seedlings ready for planting.

Also, according to Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI), macadamia trees should be 7.5 m apart in one row and 7.5 m between rows. KARI advises farmers to plant grafted macadamia varieties since they have short maturity period of 2 years compared to 5 years of non-grafted seedlings and they have a high productivity rate.

Other than being a high Return-on-Investment venture, Macadamia tree has tons of valuable qualities. For example, its nuts could be added to several foodstuffs like cakes, candies, or still, used in the manufacturing of oil used in the cosmetic and pharmaceutical industries.

Guess what?

The husks and shells of macadamia nuts which could be, otherwise, regarded as waste, have a lot of benefits. For example, its shells and husks are mixed to produce manure, used as fuel, and provide mulch for many crops.

Farmers don’t need to worry anymore about middlemen who take a greater chunk of hard-earned farmers’ profits. Currently, in Kenya, there are over 27 licensed and certified macadamia processors who buy directly from farmers. Also, these processors provide advisory and financial services to farmers. Therefore, farmers are well cushioned against exploitation and losses.

Currently, Kenya is ranked as the third-largest producer of macadamia nuts in the world, after South Africa and Australia. According to Slovak Ambassador to Kenya, Frantisek Dlhopolek, “Kenya has an ideal climate for optimum macadamia production.” He also adds that due to the rising international demand for this product, farmers are assured a high return on their investment.

Kenya farmers have been treated to a series of losses and poor prices of their farm produce. This has led to a preponderance of them opting out from the agricultural sector and embracing other streams of income. Nevertheless, all is not lost. With the introduction of macadamia farming in Kenya, farmers have all the reasons to smile again. The crop requires minimal maintenance and fetches high profits. Besides, grafted macadamia matures very fast and its nuts have ready market globally. Therefore, farmers should embrace this farming for fast and high returns.

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