Macadamia Nuts

Oct 18, 2022 | Farmers, Macadamias

SODEC Director Parshu Dahal with Macadamia farmer Bhesh Raj Basnet…and his tall macadamia trees!

Farmer demand for our macadamia seedlings is at an all-time high…and going up!! Why? Because after waiting patiently for 5-6 years to see how our first saplings would do, we can all see the evidence: tall trees with clusters of nuts! Organic macadamias are a long-term investment, requiring 6 years to begin producing nuts and 10 years to fully mature…our overall production is still low as our very first saplings are only now beginning to mature. Thousands of trees we have planted will begin fruiting in the years to come. Macadamia trees will live for 60-70 years, providing food and income for this generation and next.

2015: 200 total macadamias planted, 5 farmers
2022: 11,600 total macadamias planted, 141 farmers
2023: planting 4,000 more trees and adding ~50 new farmers

Lila Chettri has 25 macadamia trees, and she’s excited they are all producing nuts for the first time this year. Look closely–the nuts are green and round in their shells!

With early trees growing up to 12’ tall and proven to produce nuts, suddenly everybody wants some. This is not unexpected–we know that farmers are wisely risk-averse. They can’t afford to invest precious time or money in crops that won’t yield results. This is why we began CLN’s macadamia project in 2015 with a demonstration plot and a few local farmers who had the interest, trust, and ability to invest in something new. That number grew as the trees did, and now that we actually have productive trees with nuts, farmers feel the risk is low. Farmer involvement is soaring!

We have 11,600 trees planted, but only ~80 trees were mature enough to produce a harvest last November. Those trees produced ~70 lbs. of nuts and more trees will fruit every year now.

Caroline Moyer has been a long-term major donor supporting our organic macadamia nurseries and has helped us to bring thousands of saplings to farmers in memory of her sister Rosemary. Our CLN team on the ground in Nepal made a sign in gratitude of her financial support for the nurseries year after year.

Friends of Nepal gave us a generous grant in September to grow an additional 4000 saplings in our nurseries this fall and train 50 farmers on correct planting and tree care. We’re grateful for their faith in our work, their financial support, and to Returned Peace Corps Volunteer Anne Schoelwer who supported us in the grant process! Program Director Parshu Dahal has been out in the field coordinating seed delivery and getting us set up for large nurseries. Farmer demand still exceeds our nursery supply, so each year we have fair distribution practices in place to ensure that small farms receive a large proportion of saplings while larger farms are encouraged to use nuts from their own harvest and start nurseries for their own supply. 

We also have strong relationships with the local district and village governments as a part of the long term plan for sustainability of our agricultural projects. The local governments have already provided funding for 72 rainwater collection ponds, 13,000 feet of irrigation pipe, and 100 push tractors for ploughing without oxen over the past few years. In the years ahead, we expect local government support will continue beyond CLN’s involvement because we have established farmer cooperatives that are formally registered with the government and are now effectively drawing down government funds for agricultural support.

In our organic coffee regions, macadamia trees are intercropped with the coffee so that they will eventually provide the shade that coffee bushes need, as well as additional income from the same land. Macadamias grow well at lower altitudes than coffee, so we also have some farmers growing nut trees without coffee. For all of these farmers, macadamia are a resilient crop that is helping to address changing climate conditions which are making traditional subsistence agriculture much harder. Macadamias hold great earning potential, transport and store well, and will be a source of income that can significantly raise the standard of living in an area where individual income is only ~$600/year. CLN’s aim is to help farming families double their income.

We’re excited that this project is coming to fruition! Join us in supporting the farmer collectives this year in organic composting, tree care, and growing saplings from local seed. Your donations will bring much-needed technical expertise to nearly 200 families as they continue to invest in this new crop.