Sunday, May 26, 2024

Patrick Mukundi: Man making money exporting the world’s most expensive nut

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Years after quitting his banking career for  Macadamia farming, Patrick Mukundi Mbogo is now raking a fortune from the world’s most expensive nut, valued at over $50(Ksh6,525) per kilogram.

Narrating his farming journey on How we made it in Africa, Mukundi revealed his decision to venture into Macadamia farming was inspired by a customer of his former bank who would constantly visit the bank looking to sell huge amounts of dollars.

As per his narration, this was a rare occurrence, as most customers visited the lender looking for dollars to buy. Mukundi later approached this particular customer, seeking to know what kind of trade he was into.

To his surprise, he learned that he was trading macadamia, a venture he says is popular in his home area in Embu County.

“I got talking to him, and he told me that he traded macadamia nuts. I knew there were a lot of macadamia trees near where I was from in Embu, some of which were rotting away,”

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“So I did some basic training, learned how to check for good-quality nuts, and started a small operation. I would buy the raw nuts from farmers and sell them to my former customer,” he recalled.

His breakthrough came when he got introduced to an international client through an old friend who was working with Kenya’s Export Promotion Council.

The international client, Swiss Gourmet, wanted to source macadamia nuts in Kenya and so they jointly set up a small joint venture in Thika town called Privamnuts.

“In the beginning, all the cracking and processing of the nuts was manual. We would ship three or four containers – up to 70 tonnes – a year. Swiss Gourmet roasted some of the nuts themselves, but they sold the vast majority of the nuts to third parties.” He added.

In 2013, Swiss Gourmet pulled out of the joint venture, making Mbogo the sole owner. His entrepreneurial spirit led him to expand Privamnuts operations where he acquired new land to construct new facilities.

Through Privamnuts, Mukundi has created employment for over 400 employees. His firm, which has a capacity to process around 7,000 metric tonnes of raw nuts per year, currently ships over 12 containers a year.

He notes that a full 20ft container of shelled macadamia nuts can sell for up to $300,000 (about Ksh39.4 million).

“Most of our customers buy a range of different agricultural products, so we have market access. Once you make inroads in one product, other products become easier. The key is just getting into that arena, talking to buyers, and building up trust,” he said.

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