What you need to know:
- Move is aimed at protecting farmers from exploitation by middlemen.
Country produces about 10,000 metric tonnes of the nuts valued at Sh264.9 million.
The government has banned exportation of raw cashew nuts as it moves to revive the industry, Agriculture minister William Ruto announced on Thursday.
Mr Ruto further said that it is only the government and the National Cereals and Produce Board, which are authorised to buy raw nuts from farmers.
“Why we are imposing the ban is to protect farmers from exploitation by middlemen,” he said.
He added that the ban will officially be announced in a gazette notice to be published next week.
The minister was speaking at his Kilimo House office after he received the report of a task force he had set up in April to seek ways and means of revitalising the cashew nuts sector.
Banning of cashew nuts exports was one of the proposals the task force, which was chaired by a former managing director of defunct Kilifi Cashew Nut Factory Mr John Mumba, had made.
Cashew nuts are largely grown in Coast province.
The country produces about 10,000 metric tonnes of the nuts valued at Sh264.9 million. But according to Mr Ruto, Kenya has a potential to produce over 63,000 metric tonnes, valued at Sh1 billion.
“We want to immediately set up a special desk at the ministry, which will be addressing problems facing cashew nut farmers,” Mr Ruto who was accompanied by the PS in the ministry Dr Romano Kiome said.
The cashew nuts sector, Mr Kiome said, has the potential to create employment through value addition.
However, it has been dogged by capacity constraints and lack of marketing direction.
And since the collapse of Kilifi Cashew Nuts Factory in the mid 1990’s, production of cashew nuts has gone down as farmers have been discouraged by high costs of farm inputs and lack of guaranteed market.
The Africa Development Bank is supporting a pilot project in Kilifi that is meant to open up opportunities for value addition of cashew nuts locally.
Currently, only two companies process cashew nuts. They include Kenya Nuts in Thika and Equatorial Nuts in Murang’a. The two are located about 700 away from the growing area.
Mr Ruto said his Ministry is working with Kenya Agriculture Research Institute to develop a disease-free cashew nut tree.
“We are also pushing for inclusion of cashew nuts in the schedule of products of Agoa (African Growth and Opportunity Act)” he said.