The macadamia industry expects growth of approximately 6 300 ha per annum, until 2030.
Arguably, this is the fastest growing tree in South Africa after Moringa. Based on its growth trajectory, Macadamias of South Africa (SAMAC) target of 2030 was not far from the mark.
“Its production has increased more than 20-fold in the last 20 years, from 1 211 tons of nuts in shell (NIS) in 1991 to 59’050 tons in 2019 respectively” it said.
According to SARS the total value of South African macadamia nuts sold in 2019 was R4.8 billion with kernel being the biggest income generator. More than 98% of South Africa’s macadamia produce was destined for exports markets.
“Total exports for the kernel was 9 917 tonnes. Approximately 41% were exported to North America, 47% to Europe Union (including UK), 2% to Southeast Asia (China) and 7% to the Middle East (refer to figures below under “Kernel distribution”)” added SAMAC.
KwaZulu-Natal led in macadamia production with 2 348 new hectares in 2019 followed closely by Mpumalanga and Limpopo. Beaumont and A4 still remained the most popular cultivars in 2019 seeing an exponential growth.
Currently, SAMAC has roughly 700 active members; 495 Growers, 21 Handlers, 18 Nurseries and 61 Associate Members. In 2019 the Southern African Macadamia industry planted 5 962 new hectares of macadamia.
In terms of small players involvement in the industry, Limpopo (Tzaneen) was leading the pack as it contributed 60% of smallholder farmers involved in macadamia production followed by Hazyview to Barberton in Mpumalanga, coastal KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape.
For its transformation drive, SAMAC said annually it allocated R2 million towards its 15 transformation projects, providing support in agricultural infrastructure, inputs, equipment, training and to a larger extent procuring from the same farmers.
However, the industry was not immune to challenges as the effects of long-term drought had devastating impact. SAMAC 2020 revised crop forecast has projected a decline in production from 59 050 tonnes in 2019 to 49 503 tonnes.
In parts of KZN and Mpumalanga the rise of theft of macadamia trees has also contributed to the decline, with industry making losses ranging between R100 – R200 million.
On the horizon, the industry’s lucrative appetite has attracted new players. A new online macadamia auction developed by Hello Choice is to go live on 11August. It is expected to benefit, connect buyers and sellers alike, and is pegged to be one of the biggest macadamia trading platforms in the world.