Malawi has not benefitted from its position as one of the world's top producers of macadamia nuts, with the crop appearing nowhere near the country's top five foreign exchange earners.
The country's top crop exports are tobacco, sugar, tea and cotton.
However, United States Development Association Foreign Agricultural Service lists Malawi among top macadamia producers together with Australia, South Africa, Kenya, Guatemala and Brazil. The country also features highly on the global Farm and Forestry Production and Marketing Profile for macadamia nuts.
Australia, with 40 percent of the world's production, is the largest producer and exporter, while South Africa is turning into a key producer with over 1.4 million juvenile trees yet to start producing and an average 934, 000 trees coming into bearing annually.
Australia, Malawi, Kenya, Guatemala, Brazil and Hawai'i have been named as the countries that have contributed towards a global surge in macadamia production. Between 1996 and 2004 alone, these countries increased the plant's production by 42 percent, with recent statistics showing that production levels continue to improve.
Statistics from the Southern African Macadamia Growers' Association show that a total of 26,123 metric tonnes of kernels was produced in 2008 by Australia, South Africa, Hawai'i, Kenya, Malawi, Guatemala, Brazil, Costa Rica, and Zimbabwe.
The current global price for macadamia nuts is US$1.5 (K290) per kilogram.
For a country facing a severe foreign currency shortage, the Ministry of Industry and Trade has revealed plans to capitalize on the country's favourite climate and 'big-producers' reputation to promote and cash on the crop.
Industry and Trade Minister, John Bande, said government now wants to capitalize on macadamia's many uses and turn the country's economic fortunes for the better.
"This is in view of the contribution the crop can make to import-substitution as well as generation of foreign exchange. Malawi has the potential to export significant volumes of macadamia nuts, particularly if the country employs organic means of production," Bande said.
Bande said the nut has so many advantages, among them the fact that it can be eaten raw, used as an input in bakery, confectionary, chocolate making, and cosmetic industries in the production of skin care products. Because of this, he said his ministry has been active in promoting the production of the nuts.
"The following are some of the activities the ministry has accomplished: Five macadamia cooperatives have been duly registered and have since formed their own union comprising of macadamia nuts producing cooperatives. The five cooperatives have also commenced exporting macadamia nuts under Fair Trade arrangements.
"The Ministry is currently in the process of registering one macadamia cooperative society in Mwanza District. This cooperative society will be duly registered once all preparations and capacity development of leaders and members are completed."
He added that the ministry, with technical assistance from the Flanders Technical Assistance Agreement, provided support to a Thyolo-based macadamia cooperative society on good manufacturing practices to enable it export its products to the European Union.
"The next steps to be undertaken shall include assistance focusing on value addition so that the macadamia nut value-chain is strengthened and benefits the economy accordingly," Bande said.