Money Matters - Simplified

coffee market

Kenya fights threat to nut cash crop

Nairobi, Kenya -- A tree disease threatens the livelihood of farmers in Kenya who grow macadamia nuts, their only cash crop after the coffee market crashed, officials say.

The coffee boom of the 1970s and 1980s ended when the Kenyan government failed to protect coffee farmers from middlemen, who pay farmers as little as 25 cents for 2 pounds of coffee worth up to $10 in the European market, and many coffee planters turned to macadamia trees as their salvation, Inter Press Service reported Wednesday.

It is estimated that more than 10,000 Kenyan farmers have switched to farming macadamia as a cash crop mainly for the export market.

Now they face a new worry, a fungal disease attacking their nut trees.