Macadamia nut farmers cry foul

Macadamia nuts

THE Agricultural Marketing Authority (AMA) this week said government should review downwards the 25% retention on macadamia nut export receipts.

Government retains 25% of macadamia farmers’ foreign currency receipts which it reimburses in local currency. Farmers are, however, arguing that the percentage is too high and unsustainable.

Zimbabwean farmers have been embracing macadamia nut production, taking advantage of the growing demand of the crop in major markets around the world and earning foreign currency for the country.

Dubbed the green diamond, macadamia nuts are viewed as a lucrative cash crop due to their multiple uses, international market value and a decades-long harvesting lifespan.

According to the AMA report, merchants are complaining over a high retention threshold, indicating that it is crippling the sector.

"Merchants implored the government to review the retention level of 25% which they considered too high which they said was impeding business operations," the report said.

AMA Agribusiness director Jonathan Mukuruba told NewsDay Farming that various efforts have been made to review the retention level through government engagement.

"We met the macadamia nut stakeholders and they have expressed concern over the 25% retention level which they say is too high and affecting their businesses and various steps have been made which include engaging government through our parent ministry to review the level for the sector to grow," he said.

However, merchants also indicated that prices were depressed by about 30% between March and June 2023, owing to oversupply in Europe and the United States.

In 2024, the same trend is expected as well before an expected resurgence in 2025.

The merchants’ main markets are Hong Kong and South Africa where they fetch prices of about US$2 per kg and US$7-12 per kg for the dry nut in shell and kernel, respectively. Macadamia farmers noted that currently there is no funding facility for the macadamia nut trees.

Producers relied on some contractors for inputs such as chemicals, fertiliser and working capital.

But farmers want long-term capital for their operations as one has to wait for up to seven years to break even. Production costs are also too high.

Macadamia nuts can be processed into oil, butter, chocolates and biscuits, among other products.

Research has shown that the nuts have unique nutritional benefits. They protect the brain and lower the risk of heart diseases, among other benefits.

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