Edible nuts are now Malawi’s third largest export after tobacco, sugar and tea raking in $107 million (about K76 billion) last year, according to trade statistics.
Unlike other cash crops, such as, tobacco, sugar and tea which have a declining market, groundnuts, cashew nuts and macadamia nuts are in high demand on the international market due to changes in consumer needs.
According to a recently released 2016 Malawi Government Annual Economic Report, between 2014 and 2015, the value of edible nuts went up by 52.3 percent.
As a result in 2015, for instance, edible nuts export value rose by 34.4 percent from $70.3 million (about K50 billion) in 2014 to $107.1 million (K76 billion).
According to the report, Macadamia nuts are high-value nuts on the international market and can fetch up to $12 per kilogramme (kg).
Sadly, due to poor weather, and El Nino impacts, production of the crop last year was lower compared to previous years. Only Mzimba district recorded an increase in macadamia nuts production, the report said.
In an interview, legumes export expert, Maurice Chimbilima Gondwe said the country has potential to produce more nuts.
He said, however, the challenge is that smallholder farmers lack financial and technical support.
“What we need now are proper policies and financial support to ensure that we can produce more as we are at the moment not even able to meet the demand on the international market,” he said.
In recent years, however, the return on macadamia in the export market has kept enviable records, and as of now the Malawian industry has a good reputation of exporting a high-quality products.
Over 75 percent of Malawian macadamia exports go to the United States, Japan and Europe.