The international demand for different kinds of nuts – almond, cashew, hazelnut, macadamia, pecan and walnut – continues to increase due to perceived health benefits, nutritional value and changing dietary habits, particularly also in development and emerging economies. In this context, we, HELVETAS Swiss Intercooperation (hereinafter HELVETAS) have initiated an initiative to assess the suitability of nuts including macadamia in the context of agricultural commercialisation considering climatic, social and economic parameters in Nepal.
We found that the climate for macadamia is suitable at many locations in the middle hills at present (see Figure) and in the future.
Macadamia farmers are motivated by curiosity, income and low labour requirements of the nut trees as a HELVETAS study on acceptance, motivation and challenges behind nut cultivation in Nepal has shown. Children like the taste and farmers said that the macadamia gives them energy which is explained by its high content of saturated fat.
Once the tree is planted, the physical work involved is marginal, which makes it a suitable crop for women, older people and left behind families of Gulf migrants. The nuts are robust and when they are dried properly, they are nearly non-perishable. These characteristics are crucial for many poorly accessible areas in Nepal as it allows growers to decide themselves when to sell the product.
In Nepal, macadamia requires the same micro-climatic contitions such as coffee, ginger or turmeric. As the trees will take time to mature and produce nuts, we aim at intercropping spices with macadamia.