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Macadamia nuts, untapped riches many farmers not aware of

LAST month, a local company in Mwanga District, Kilimanjaro Region launched massive cultivation of macadamia nuts with the aim of making Tanzania become a leading produce in the East Africa bloc.

Making the revelation during a handover ceremony of the second batch of 1,200 macadamia seedlings after a successful similar event that distributed 2,000 seedlings November last year, MACJARO Ltd Company spokesperson, Mr Austin Makani promised to deliver the remaining 1,800 seedlings by next month as part of their corporate social responsibility.

This can prompt one to ask, what is the nut that is new in the country and what are its benefits? In a nutshell, Macadamia nuts are tree nuts that have a subtle, butter-like flavor and creamy texture.

Native to Australia, macadamia trees are now grown in various places around the world, such as Brazil, Costa Rica, Hawaii, and New Zealand.

Like most other nuts, macadamia nuts are rich in nutrients and beneficial plant compounds and some people also use it as medicine to lower high cholesterol.

With that in mind, Mr Makani added: “We aspire to place Tanzania on the global map in the cultivation of macadamia nuts, with already planted 160 acres of macadamia and having invested more than US 1.2M US dollars in the region.

In his explanation, he added that the seedlings are made available to the farmers at the Mwanga District at a discount of 1,500/- per seedling from a market price of 7,000/- with a plan to reach several parts of the country and make Tanzania self-reliant in its production.

“The plan in the future will be to reach more districts and even outside the region, until Tanzania surpasses neighbouring Kenya which is the world’s fifth largest producer and Malawi 10th, despite Tanzania having more potentials in terms of vast land and favourable climate compared to several countries,” said the spokesperson.

Mr. Makani further said the crop is environmentally friendly and sustainable, noting: “As a tree, it provides both shade and fruits – the nut attracts very good market price. The crop allows for biodiversity. It sequesters carbon from the atmosphere hence mitigating climatic changes.

“Its husk can be used as a source for compost and animal feed and its pruning offers firewood, an alternative source for energy at household level. It protects the soil from erosion and could be used as a border crop and as well it can be inter-cropped.

“Socially, the crop offers community development options and encourages group farming from family level engaging especially women in management and even children can assist in the collection of nuts once they have fallen down, ready for the market.

“Economically, the cost of cultivating the crop is very minimal since it grows as a tree. It creates jobs and the nuts are a source of income for both the household and also the country through export. And with good crop management, it takes up to three years to start reaping.”

According to MACJARO Ltd Company Director, Mr. James Powell they will continue with the initiative including supporting out growers as a scheme, adding that farmers are welcome to sell back their produce to the company.

“As we look forward to starting a processing company here in the region, which is in line with the fifth regime of industrialisation spearheaded by President John Magufuli, the farmers will also be able to continue with their cultivation of food crops and this restores soil’s nitrogen content.

“We also provide capacity building to the small holder farmers so that they are able to produce efficiently and with organic practices… be able to attract even better pricing. We are confident that this crop will thrive very well, from our excellent field experience. “We urge those receiving these seedlings to practice these good agricultural methods so that their returns may be substantial,” he pointed out.

Commenting on the crop cultivation in his area, Mwanga District Commissioner, Thomas Apson urged the beneficiaries to make sure they take care of the crops, which will certainly transform their family income.

“It is high time Tanzania transformed its agriculture focusing on modern commercial crops, which in turn will attract industrialisation in line with our industrialisation drive that consolidated the country to a middle-income nation,” said.

According to Tanzania Agricultural Research Institutes (TARI) Fruits Research Coordinator, Ndeshi Tengeru the crop can be grown everywhere in the country especially Coast Region with altitudes not less than 300 metres above the sea level.

“This crop is rich in edible oil and has no health effect, it can be used for cooking, caking, and its husks for animal feeds. Tanzania can grow it in large scale, though we have lagged behind, but it’s not too late. “Currently, we have started with setting up Macadamia nuts Germplasm (collection centre) with some seedlings sourced from Mozambique, and Israel.

Because there are many types of macadamia nuts and some rich in sugar, but our focus is the one rich in oil. “We have started with few researched trees and written a proposal to the government for funds to set up a training centre to train farmers and thereafter will go countrywide if we get funds,” she pointed out.

In June, 2020 speaking at the institute, TARI Center of Tengeru Manager-in- Charge, Dr Stephen Uoko, said macadamia tree are renowned for being drought and several diseases resistant. “And what we are actually doing here is researching on solutions focusing on its seedlings productions with better yields to farmers and the country as a whole,” he said.

Dr Uoko further said that the institute is experimenting with it in Arusha and other rain-fed regions, where it can adapt and grown countrywide. On her part, the TARI Coordinator of Research, Alice Kavishe said the crop commands high prices in international markets, especially in Europe and USA, where one processed kilogram sells at US $54 equivalent to 125,000/-.

“We want to start supplying seedlings to local farmers, but we are constrained with inadequate land to grow enough seedlings to meet our demands,” she said.

Commenting, while visiting the site last year, the Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Omary Mgumba said at the moment Tanzania was working to ensure that the country becomes self-sufficient in edible oil production, which Macadamia nuts can also supplement.

“Tanzania is annually forced to spend a large amount of foreign currency to import edible oils and sugar. In this respect the edible oils from overseas cost the country over US $ 443,000 equivalent to 1.2 billion/-per year.

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Author: DAILY NEWS Reporter

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