Kenyan farmers go nuts for macadamias

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Kenyan farmers in the Rift Valley region are investing in high value horticultural crops as part of plans to diversify agriculture in the region.

KENYA (Reuters) - How to make a decent profit in life?

On a farmland in Kenya's rift valley, the answer has traditionally lain with maize and wheat.

Macadamia farmer, Peter Kimani though, is investing in the macadamia.

"A tree like this one now, this is the sixth year, I started harvesting last year, this year as you can see, I am expecting to harvest about 10kg. It keeps on increasing and by the time it reaches about 10 years, it is able to give you at least about 40kg onwards. And from the 12th year, this tree is able to give you over 50kg around the year," said Kimani.

A kilo of macadamia nuts sells for between one and one and a half US dollars (S$1.35).

And Kimani has 20,234 sq m of land with 350 trees.

After de-husking, he sells his macadamias to processing companies.

"Those kernels we pack them to be able to sell them to our markets in Europe, in US and we are also selling in Japan and we also selling in China," factory manager, Jungle Nuts, Christopher Gitonga said.

Jungle Nuts sources nuts from around 50,000 small scale farmers.

It comes as more farmers are being encouraged to diversify from traditional cereals.

Crops like the macadamia take a shorter period to mature, so farmers get more from their investments.

Seeing opportunity, Kimani has also set up a nursery from where he sells seedlings to other farmers.

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