Umgestaltung der Macadamianussindustrie in Kenia: Mit AutoCAD zum Erfolg

Transforming the macadamia nut industry in Kenya: Success with AutoCAD

Posted by Derek Bentov on

March 8, 2023

Directors at Exotic EPZ

Macadamia nut trees were first planted in Kenya in the mid-twentieth century. Although not a native species, coffee farmers discovered that the climate and soil were ideal for the trees to thrive. Commercialization began in the 1970s. Today, macadamia nut trees are widespread throughout the country and represent an emerging industry.

Despite the success of the first commercial use 50 years ago, the Kenyan macadamia nut industry is still unstructured. Charity Ndegwa, Jane Maigua and Loise Maina recognized the opportunities and challenges presented to small farmers in bringing the nut to market. The three women then founded Exotic EPZ and began building a network of farmers for a new processing and export business that would have a positive impact on society and the environment.

Macadamia processing at Exotic EPZ Company
All images courtesy of Exotic EPZ

"Our goal was to create an organization that would bring healthy products from the African continent to the world. We want to make a positive and lasting impact on the community and the environment and promote socio-economic growth in our country," says Charity Ndegwa , co-founder and operations manager of Exotic EPZ.

One of the biggest obstacles to success has been expanding access. Some farmers may only have a few trees, while others may have a small orchard. But everyone faces the same difficulties when it comes to getting their product to market, making the supply chain and pricing transparent, and ensuring secure and fast payment.

“We now have 7,000 smallholder farmers in 11 different growing regions and the purchasing process is very technology-based,” says Ndegwa. "We are keen to use technology to streamline the entire process. We use a web-based application called 'Connected Farmer Application'. This application allows us to register farmers and collect their contact details, number of trees, among other things , indicate the cultivated area and its exact location.

Macademia Nut Farmers Exotic EPZ

“The system allows communication with farmers through the bulk messaging function,” she continues. "This feature is used to send information about field days, start and end of the growing season and other agronomic information. The application also allows farmers to be paid through the mobile money system (MPESA). This is very exciting for them because they are paid promptly and paid correctly."

Planning the processing plant with AutoCAD

According to regulations in Kenya, macadamia nuts must be processed locally before export. After three years of operation, Exotic EPZ had to remodel the processing factory to create more space to install new machinery and expand the workforce as demand for macadamia nuts increased. After the transformation, the factory's processing capacity increased from 5 to 10 tons per day, creating jobs for 122 workers, 85% of whom are women and 75% youth.

Exterior view of the exotic EPZ facility in Nairobi, Kenya
AutoCAD Impact Exotic EPZ Feature
Macadamia nuts for sorting and processing in the EPZ Exotic
Macademia Nut Sorters
Sorting macadamia nuts (top and bottom)
Sorting Macademia Nuts Kenya

With the help of Autodesk's Technology Impact Program , the design team used donated AutoCAD licenses to design both the current facility and the new and improved building that Exotic EPZ plans to construct and equip by 2023. The new facility will increase production capacity to 30 tonnes per day and create 60 new jobs. It is a testament to Exotic EPZ's commitment to empowering small farmers and creating decent jobs, especially for women and youth in the community.

The ability to use 3D modeling and visualization, 3D navigation and section planes, a 3D DWG viewer, and PDF and DGN import/export documents are critical to their work and new facility design.

AutoCAD Design Exotic EPZ

"AutoCAD is much faster and easier. There is a reusable block library in the software with functions such as copying and pasting into different drawings, which saves a lot of time. Accurate dimensions are simply not possible with hand-drawn drawings. This accuracy is an important feature in ours Factory planning, especially when creating new partitions and machine layouts."

Lawrence Munyaka, Technical Assistant, Exotic EPZ

One of the most important components of the facility is food safety certification. Food safety standards require that the indoor facility be designed, constructed and maintained to allow good hygiene and manufacturing practices. All movements of materials, products, equipment and people also require very detailed planning to avoid potential sources of contamination.

Macademia nut food safety

“AutoCAD has enabled us to design a facility that complies with international food processing and hygiene standards and enables certification to one of the best food safety standards (FSSC 22000),” says Ndegwa.

The design team also improved the health and safety aspects of the facility using AutoCAD, including creating an emergency evacuation plan and placing firefighting equipment and first aid kits.

Exotic EPZ AutoCAD Graders Design

"AutoCAD allows us to save time and money because it is easy to design and view layouts, interpret and identify design problems, and securely store and transfer data."

Jared Barongo, Head of Engineering, Exotic EPZ