Authorities have accused Chinese processors of being behind the harvesting of immature macadamia subjecting farmers to huge losses.

The Chinese processors based in Kenya are offering better prices for a kilo of the nuts than their Kenyan counterparts. This fuels harvesting of young nuts, according to the regulator.

The Directorate of Nuts and Oil Crops says the Chinese are offering Sh100 for a kilo against Sh70 of local processors.

“Chinese are paying highly compared with others. However, they buy anything regardless of the quality,” said the directorate.

But farmers led by Meru County Macadamia Association chairman Joshua Muriira accused local processors of plotting to kick out the Chinese buyers in order to lower farmgate prices.

“The Chinese traders have been buying at Sh170 per kilo while other buyers want the price to go as low as Sh80…Agriculture and Food Authority is destroying our source of income by scaring away the best buyers,” Mr Muriira said.

Last week officials from the directorate stormed a marketing agency that supplies nuts to the Chinese firms, where they discovered immature macadamia that had been harvested for processing.

The agents, who act as middlemen buy the crop from farmers then sell it to Chinese firms, where hundreds of kilos are rejected.

The directorate says there are powerful people behind the Chinese, who are protecting the illegal practice.

The move has compelled the regulator to register dealers to be allowed to deal in the crop.

The directorate said on Monday that macadamia farmers have lost Sh680 million in the last one year to unscrupulous processors.

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