Ten Senses Africa & Taita Group, Kenya
Most important facts
Pakka Fairtrade partner since:
Number of farming families:
Macadamia nuts, coffee, bananas, tea
Country and region:
Kenya, Taita-Taveta Province
About Ten Senses Africa & Taita Group, Kenya
Kenya is one of the world’s largest exporters of macadamia nuts. The macadamia nut was introduced in the 1940s and was widely used as a shade tree in coffee gardens in the 1960s. Around 100,000 small farmers with approximately 900,000 macadamia trees produce the majority of the harvest. Unfortunately, the smallholders earn little or even too little income from the sale of macadamia nuts. Their biggest problem is the monopoly position of the state-run Kenya Nut Company. The company determines the price and conditions of purchase. In recent years, the Kenya Nut Company has established more and more of its own macadamia plantations, which has greatly reduced the sales opportunities for small farmers. As a result, prices for the small farmers fell to around one-sixth of the original price between 2000 and 2008. This situation caused them to abandon their macadamia harvest and thus lost an important additional income.
The Slovakian fair trade organisation Ten Senses has taken it upon itself to circumvent the monopoly on processing. In addition to organising and providing intensive technical advice and support to the farming families, Ten Senses initiated the establishment of a new processing plant for macadamia nuts, as the nuts can only be processed mechanically due to their hard shells. This gives the smallholders new access to the market and, thanks to fair prices, the cultivation and harvesting of the nuts is once again profitable.
The processing plant Ten Senses Africa is located in Thika (20 km north of Nairobi) and was completed in 2008. The facility handles the entire production process from drying, cracking, sorting, roasting and sorting of the nuts to vacuum packaging. A total of up to 50 people are employed: the personnel for management, technology, administration and purchasing – currently 5 people – are permanently employed. A further 45 women, who are responsible for the manual separation of nuts and shells as well as for the hand selection of the nuts, are employed on a seasonal basis during the two harvest periods in September/October and April/May respectively. Together with the Swiss College of Agriculture, Pakka has analysed and improved quality management in the processing plant.
Today Pakka purchases the macadamia nuts from the Taita producer group via Ten Senses Africa. The Taita Farmers are organised in WAMATTA, an umbrella organisation of 7 member groups. WAMATTA was founded in 2002 as an umbrella organisation of small producers with the aim of jointly marketing macadamia nuts. Today, WAMATTA has around 370 members, all of them small farming families with one hectare of land each, where they mainly practice subsistence farming. The macadamia nuts are grown in mixed cultivation – mainly in combination with coffee, tea, bananas and other fruits. The cultivation is close to nature and is gradually being converted to organic farming in accordance with the EU organic standard. Besides macadamia nuts, coffee is another important cash crop. The headquarters of the umbrella organisation WAMATTA is Wundanyi, district capital of the Kenyan coastal province Taita-Taveta.