Cashew nut farmers from Kwale County are in dire need of the government’s intervention on imports from Tanzania which have taken over the local market leaving them helpless with their produce.
According to the local farmers, Kenyan traders opt for Tanzanian Cashew nuts due to their quality which is higher compared to the Kenyan produce thus leading to an unhealthy competition in the market.
The main reason for traders running for Tanzanian Cashew nuts is because of its ability to be processed by machines unlike those from Kenya.
Kenyan farmers have been left with no other choice other than selling their produce at throw away prices of 650 shillings for a kilogram of cashew nuts while those imported from Tanzania retailing at 1,300 shillings.
The few farmers who might be lucky to sell their produce are the ones who get the 650 shillings while a majority of them remain helpless with no access to market therefore having to count losses with nowhere to take their produce.
Currently, brokers control the cashew nut market despite the establishment of special collection zones en-route to processing plants. Most of these brokers rely on the processing plants rather than direct exports after making purchases from the farmers.
The cashew nut industry contribution to the country’s GDP was almost four percent three decades ago before it collapsed.
So lucrative was the industry that Kilifi farmers, through their co-operative owned Sinbad Hotel in Malindi. The hotel collapsed when the factory closed.
Over the years, efforts to revive the industry have failed, with leaders citing lack of commitment by the government, farmers’ unwillingness to plant hybrid orchard, aging trees and lack of market.
It takes five to seven years for indigenous cashew nut tree species to reach maturity and three to five years for hybrid breeds to start producing nuts.