By Todd Walton
Macadamia nuts are grown in Kenya both as a cash crop and foreign exchange earner with Kenya producing about 10 percent of the world’s total production. Macadamia has great potential for poverty reduction due to the high value of its products and its low requirement for external inputs. Although the crop has been grown in the country for over 50 years, the growth of the industry is not commensurate with the demand and market potential that exists. The macadamia industry in Kenya faces several challenges the biggest of which is the lack of quality seedlings due to limited expertise in propagation. Grafted macadamia are more popular due to their fast growth rate and increased production. Macadamias are particularly difficult to graft, and in Kenya there are very few that knowledgeable and experienced in grafting techniques.
Good Neighbours’ Community Project has been promoting macadamia nut production in the Western Kenya; using conventionally produced seedlings that are not only poor yielding but which also take up to seven years before they begin producing nuts. It is for this reason that this host organization requested for F2F volunteer assistance in training their members as well as the Ministry of agriculture extension agents. In August 2015, Todd Walton completed a two week assignment. In these two weeks, he trained 40 people. Together with the community, they explored the various factors that contribute to limited graft success such as scion selection, timing of grafting and management of the root stock. He also practically demonstrated various seedling multiplication methods with special emphasis on grafting techniques, while also demonstrating other methods such as air layering. To ensure success of grafted seedlings, he also trained on nursery management.
Following this training, GNCP members are now continuing with grafting of seedlings, while the 40 trained members continue to train other members. Mr. Walton further advised the macadamia nut farmers on utilizing the macadamia orchards to full potential, through intercropping the young macadamia trees with disease resistant and fast growing varieties of papaya and he also introduced tissue culture banana seedlings, donating these to the community. This recommendation was implemented immediately. It is anticipated that this assignment will contribute to the following;
- Significantly improved success rate of grafting macadamia.
- Inspired and motivated local farmers to grow new varieties of fruits.
- Improved soil quality at 5 nurseries in transzoia and Bungoma counties.
- Increased income for macadamia nut.
CRS F2F program staff will continue to monitor success in grafting through the increased number of successfully grafted seedlings planted increase in volumes and increase in sales.
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