South Africa wants to maintain its position as the world’s largest exporter of macadamia nuts

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The macadamia nut harvest is underway in South Africa. The country is the largest exporter in the world, ahead of Australia, where this crop originates. In Mpumalanga province, macadamia crops have replaced bananas and avocados. Industry professionals have high ambitions for this culture.

From our correspondent in South Africa

In Río Blanco, the landscape has changed a lot in the last ten years in the region. Macadamia plantations have doubled, replacing other crops. Macadamia nuts are particularly popular in ice cream. More expensive than almonds or walnuts, it offers farmers a good income.

Hendrick Alberts does not find it exaggerated to talk about macadamia nut fever. ” Farmers have been looking for more profitable crops than bananas, guavas or lychees for several years. And the macadamias arrived at just the right time. This gained momentum after the publication of articles in the scientific journals of the Lancet Y British medical journal about the many health benefits of macadamia nuts. »

Hendrick Alberts takes us on a tour of his farm. It continues to grow and now extends to Mozambique. He clearly sees a brake on its expansion: climate change. ” In this area, the harvests are not as good as expected. This is 25% to 30% less performance than expected. Due to extreme temperatures, very cold winters. »

new green gold

So farmers have to adapt, and that’s where Mike Schulze comes in. For Green Farms Nut, he supports more than 470 growers who sell their macadamia nuts to his company for export. Mike Schulze is there to advise them. ” The industry has had some great years, but I think the market needs to learn to be more resilient. And part of my job, as a former banker, is to teach our producers how to exploit all margins. »

The Green Farms nut warehouse can produce 10,000 tons of macadamia nuts per year and employs 250 people in peak season. The company plans to expand as plantings are expected to double in the next five years, says sales manager Alex Whyte. ” We expect a lot of growth and I think that’s a good thing. Macadamia production generates many more jobs than other agricultural products such as wood or sugar cane, explains Alex Whyte. It is also a very good export value for the country. In short, he would say that this is one of the great stories of South African agriculture. »

The macadamia nut remains a niche product, accounting for only 1.5% of the nut market.

► Read also: Kenya: the uncertain bet of the macadamia nut

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