Processors have demanded the arrest of traders involved in smuggling macadamia nuts to China through Tanzania.
Nuts Processors Association managing director Charles Muigai expressed concern that the illegal business was discouraging macadamia farmers from investing in the sector as well as hurting the economy.
“These shadowy operators have been in the business for a long time and keep changing their business name to evade taxes and cover their smuggling operations,” said Mr Muigai in the letter dated February 28 to the Commissioner, Investigations and Enforcement Department at the Kenya Revenue Authority.
He urged KRA management to ascertain the compliance status of operators and issue an alert to Namanga and South Coast border points to Tanzania to stop the illegal business.
“We ask your office to instruct your officers to check the contents of goods heading to border points to Tanzania and apprehend the culprits,” said Mr Muigai in the letter. He said that despite a ban on smuggling of the crop in 2013, macadamia the vice continues.
Last week police in Meru arrested three Chinese who were buying raw macadamia for export.
Mr Muigai urged concerted efforts by relevant authorities to arrest those behind the illegal business.
“According to International Nuts Council statistics, Tanzania exports over 3,000 metric tones of macadamia annually yet it does not produce the nuts,” said Mr Muigai.
He warned that unless the government moves quickly to stem massive losses and widespread exploitation of farmers, the sector will collapse.
Mr Muigai said the sector has high potential to boost the economy and create local jobs.