Lamu, KENYA: Cashew nut farmers in Lamu county want the national government to intervene and help lift a ban forbidding them from selling the crop to the foreign market.
The ban was imposed by the then Agriculture Minister William Ruto and has so far lasted eight years.
On July 30,2009,Ruto announced the ban on the exportation of raw cashew nuts as a move to revive the industry and said that it was only the National Cereals and Produce Board of Kenya NCPB, that had the authority to buy raw nuts from farmers.
The move was to protect farmers from outside exploitation from middlemen.
Speaking in Mpeketoni on Sunday,MCA and cashew nut farmer who is also the chairperson of the Lamu cashew nut farmers Joseph Githuku, said the crop produce has accumulated and that they have no ready markets for it.
There are over 10,000 cashew nut farmers in the entire county with the main cashew nut growing zones in Lamu being Mpeketoni, Baharini, Kiongwe, Tewa, Hongwe, Uziwa, Telelani, Faza and Witu.
Farmers now say the produce has no ready market and called on the government to lift the ban and allow them sell the now surplus produce to the outside markets.
They said they had no qualms even if they are exploited, since it was better than the current situation where the produce now literally goes bad on the farms.
Githuku said as a result of the ban cashew nut prices had drastically gone down and have continued to dwindle.
“Every store and granary is full of cashew nuts here.Basically every farmer has them stocked up and others going stale.We are urging the government to now lift that ban.We have lost millions as a result,” said Githuku.
The farmers feel the removal of the ban will expand the cashew nut market and also improve the pricing of the crop.as previously a kilo would go for as much as Sh.70 but now the much one can get for a kilo is Sh.30.
“This ban is killing this industry and we feel it has been in place far too long.Eight years is long enough to kill any industry,”said Josphat Maina,a cashew nut farmer in Mpeketoni.
They appealed to the government to set up a cashew nut factory that and also help place the crop on the foreign markets.