Women Rep calls for lifting of cashew nut export ban in Lamu

Unripe cashew nuts at a farm. PHOTO: COURTESY.

Lamu, KENYA: Lamu women rep Shakilla Abdalla has asked the national government to lift a nine year old cashew nut export ban imposed on farmers in the county.

Shakilla said the ban which was imposed way back in 2009 by the then Agriculture Minister William Ruto has led to the collapse of cashew nut farming in Lamu.

The ban forbids cashew nut farmers from exporting and selling the crop to outside markets in what had been considered as a move to revive local industries.

Speaking in Lamu town on Monday ,Shakilla said there was need for the ban to be lifted as it was no longer helpful and had damaged the cashew nut industry.

Back then,only the National Cereals and Produce Board of Kenya-NCPB had the authority to purchase raw nuts from the farmers.

Farmers in the major cashew nut growing areas in Lamu that are Mpeketoni,Witu and Faza having incurred huge losses have so far quit and embarked on other ventures since they no longer have a ready market locally for their produce.

Shakilla said farmers have been demoralized and that the ban has done too much damage that will take long to be undone.

“Nine years is too much time for any given ban to still be in existence.It has closed all market doors even for those subsistence sellers and the situation is very unfortunate.This is one industry that was doing so well and farmers were getting good money,” said Shakilla.

The women rep said shortly following the ban,many farmers who had stocked up their stores with cashew nuts encountered huge losses since they were unable to sell and as a result tones of kilos of cashew nuts were destroyed killing the morale of many.

She called on the government to lift the ban in order to enable for the resuscitation cashew nut farming which she said would change the fortunes for Lamu county.

Many farmers have also uprooted cashew nut trees from their farms since they see no hope for the produce to do well again where they can get value for their money as long as the ban is still in place.

“I don’t understand why the cashew nut ban is still on here in Lamu after all no one is doing cashewnut farming as well as they used and therefore the government can as well just lift the ban to enable for the revival of the industry.”  Said Shakilla.

There are over 10,000 cashewnut farmers in Lamu who have so far been rendered dormant due to the existing ban.

A number of farmers have however been able to preserve some of the produce and are hopeful of exporting it at good prices if and when the ban is lifted.

Shakilla also called on the county government of Lamu to set up a cashew nut factory in the county and also assist farmers source for ready foreign and local markets for their produce.

She criticized the ban terming it a failed intervention as it had led to the collapse of the industry and had failed to open up local markets for farmers.

“Middlemen have taken over and we all know what that means.Farmers are exploited and since they have no other option ,they give in to selling their produce at very low prices.A kilo of cashew nuts that went for Sh.70 has drastically gone down to as low as Sh 20 a kilo,” said Shakilla.