International Journal of Plant Breeding and Genetics

International Journal of Plant Breeding and Genetics ISSN 5756-2148 Vol. 4 (6), pp. 281-291, June, 2017. © International Scholars Journals

Full Length Research Paper

Status of macadamia production in Kenya and the potential of biotechnology in enhancing its genetic improvement

L. N. Gitonga1,3*, A. W. T. Muigai2, E. M. Kahangi3, K. Ngamau3 and S. T. Gichuki4

1Kenya Agricultural Research Institute, National Horticultural Research Center, P. O. Box 01000 - 220, Thika.

2Department of Botany, Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology, P. O. Box 00200-62000, Nairobi.

3Department of Horticulture, Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology, P. O. Box 00200-62000, Nairobi.

4Kenya Agricultural Research Institute, Biotechnology Center, P. O. Box 00200-57811, Nairobi.

*Corresponding author. E-mail: lucygitonga2000@yahoo.com. Tel.: 254-67-24332.

Accepted 11 March, 2009

Abstract

Macadamia (Macadamia spp.) is considered the world’s finest dessert nut because of its delicate taste and numerous health benefits. It is grown in Kenya both as a cash crop and foreign exchange earner with Kenya producing about 10% of the world’s total production. Macadamia has great potential for poverty reduction due to the high value of its products and its low requirement for external inputs. Although the crop has been grown in the country for over 5 decades, the growth of the industry is not commensurate with the demand and market potential that exists. Some of the challenges facing the macadamia industry in Kenya include lack of cultivars adapted to various agro ecological zones, inadequate planting materials of high quality, high cost of the available good quality planting materials and pests and diseases that affect nuts thus lowering post harvest quality. This paper discusses the potential of agricultural biotechnology relevant to genetic improvement of macadamia to compliment other efforts for its improved productivity and value.

Key words: Macadamia, dessert nut, biotechnology, genetic improvement.