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Macadamia Trees


  • Close up of coffee cherries growing on a branch on Mathew's coffee farm.

Mathew Mugo has been producing coffee on the 10-hectare Riamute estate since 2015. In addition to the estate, Mathew owns a washing station and works with five growers who own smaller farms nearby.

Over the last three decades, the Kenyan coffee industry has been in sharp decline. Today, the country produces about a third of the coffee it did in the late 1980s. There are dozens of factors that have contributed to this decline—from the increasing cost of land and expensive housing market outside Nairobi, to the disruptions caused by plant disease and low productivity, to the difficulties of marketing and infrastructure for selling coffee. The major factor, however, is that the production of coffee in Kenya is not seen as profitable or enticing from a business perspective. Because of this, younger generations of coffee-farming families are not taking over the farms and are, instead, gravitating toward work in the city. 

Mathew Mugo and his family are different. He and his wife Charity, and the rest of their family, have been increasingly investing in coffee. In addition to growing coffee, Mathew applied for a Seeds grant to purchase macadamia nut trees. These trees help diversify Mathew’s income as well as the incomes of those who will be able to buy the macadamia nut trees at a reduced rate (and then sell the nuts). The trees also increase shade cover, soil moisture, and nutrient retention by intercropping the trees with their coffee.