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Committee to considers Bill seeking to revive coconut, cashew nut sector

A Parliamentary Committee is is reviewing a proposed bill that seeks to revive the production and processing of coconut and cashew nut sectors.

The National Assembly Committee on Agriculture and Livestock, chaired by Konoin MP, Hon. Brighton Yegon, is reviewing the Proposed Coconut and Cashew Nut Bill 2023.

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The proposed Coconut and Cashew Nut Bill, 2023 sponsored by Deputy Majority Leader of the Majority Party and Kilifi North MP, Hon. Owen Yaa Baya, seeks to provide regulation for the production, processing, marketing, grading, storage, collection, transportation and warehousing of coconut and cashew nut.

“The Crop is almost dying and we need this crop. We should be able to revive this industry on the coast region,” Kwanza Constituency MP, Hon. Ferdinand Wanyonyi.

The draft legislation which is undergoing pre publication scrutiny also seeks to establish the Coconut and Cashew Nut Board of Kenya, to oversee the regulation, production, grading, storage, auctioning, marketing, research, and development of coconut and cashew nut.

On her part, Lamu Countu MP, Hon. Monica Marubu highlighted the decline of coconut and cashew nut production in the Coast region citing long maturing coconuts and lack of incentives for farmers. “We should appreciate these two cashcrops. They are on decline. If we get an body that can focus on coconuts and cashew nuts, we can revive the sector. The Climate on the coastal region is conducive for these crops. I urge my colleagues to give this bill the attention it deserves,” she added.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development in their submissions opposed the legislative proposal highlighting that the Agriculture and Food Authority is mandated to oversight and develop the sector adding that the purpose of the proposed Coconut and Cashew Nut Bll, 2023 is adequately addressed by the Crops Act, 2013, AFA Act, 2013 and the Crops (Nuts and Oil Crops) Regulations, 2020. While the Kenya Law Reform Commission supports the draft Bill.

Regarding cashew nuts, production has been declining since the late 1970s. The Kenya Cashew Nut Factory, a subsidiary of Kenya Cashew Nut Limited (KCL), with the capacity to process 15,000 MT annually, collapsed in 1997 after the mismanagement of its parent company (KCL).

In 2009, the Minister for Agriculture gazetted “The Agriculture (Prohibition of Exportation of Raw Nuts) Order, 2009” banning the export of raw cashew and macadamia nuts. While in June 2022, the Departmental Committee on Agriculture and Livestock considered a public petition on the revival of the Kenya Cashew Nuts Factory.

Cashew nut producing counties include Kilifi, Kwale, Lamu, Tana River, and Tharaka Nithi, with expansion into emerging areas in Taita Taveta, Makueni, Embu and Meru while coconut is mainly grown in Kwale, Kilifi, Lamu, Mombasa, Tana River and Taita-Taveta Counties. Other upcoming counties with promising potential are Tharaka Nithi, Meru, Busia and Siaya.

Despite its historical significance, the global coconut industry has experienced a downward trend over the past two decades. A notable factor contributing to this decline is the reduced productivity of aging coconut palms, which can drop to as low as 40% when they reach 60 years of age. Additionally, Kenyan coconut farmers grapple with various challenges, including pests and diseases affecting both trees and nuts, suboptimal agricultural practices, and the use of poor-quality planting materials.

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