Potential market boost for macadamia farmers

Macadamia farmers in Limpopo, Mpumalanga and KwaZulu-Natal stand to gain from a major new export contract.

Potential market boost for macadamia farmers

Macadamia farmers in Limpopo, Mpumalanga and KwaZulu-Natal stand to gain from a major new export contract.

The South African Youth Chamber of Commerce and Industry (YCCISA) recently put out a call for macadamia farmers to help fill a three-year, 6 000t macadamia contract.

This total equates to roughly 10% of South Africa’s annual macadamia production.

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YCCISA president Victor Mashego said that the chamber was inviting macadamia farmers with land and water rights, and capacity for expansion, to participate in the initiative.

“We’re looking for as many [farmers] as we can [get],” he said.

Mashego said the initiative was the continuation of a project launched during Youth Month last year. He said that the chamber had gained a foothold into the macadamia industry by working with a woman farmer, Esther Mhlongo of Ajuri Farm in Barberton, Mpumalanga.

In partnership with the Economic Development Department (EDD), the chamber had begun working on opening market channels, particularly in the East.

Mary Nkosi, a representative from the office of EDD Deputy Minister Madala Masuku, which deals with provincial and youth economic development matters, said their role was largely in facilitating – “unlocking and unblocking”.

She said the department had become involved after young black macadamia farmers had shared their difficulties in accessing markets. This had led to engagement with buyers and investors in Asian markets such as China, where market demand was enormous.

He said that the supply contract with China meant that the chamber had to ensure sustainable supply at sufficient volumes and quality. It also meant expanding the scope to invite applications from any macadamia farmer, regardless of age or race.

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“Business has no boundaries. The market is not looking for youth, it is looking for macadamia nuts,” he said.

Producers who came on board would have to commit to the three-year contract. Farmers would receive saplings, produced by Ajuri Farm’s already operational nursery, to increase their production in the long term, as well as chemical inputs, market access and value-chain opportunities.

Mashego said that part of the long-term plan was the establishment of a processing plant, in which farmers forming part of the cooperative could also have a stake. “The market wants us to process [the macadamias],” he said.

Barry Christie, operations manager for macadamias at the South African Subtropical Growers’ Association (Subtrop), which represents the South African Macadamia Growers’ Association (Samac), said that the industry body was not yet aware of the new initiative.

He said that Samac encouraged and supported the fact that government departments were getting involved in the macadamia industry. “Samac currently has its own transformation projects and future collaboration could be considered. Samac’s door is open to discuss possibilities,” he said.

Christie said his organisation would be able to provide further comment only once they had had an opportunity to find out more about the initiative.

Mashego invited those interested in finding out more to email him at mbolamed@gmail.com or to Whatsapp him on 072 337 2339.