South Africa's Nut Farmers Learn from US

The Valley Macadamias Group recently embarked on a fact finding mission to nut farms in California to search for methodologies that could improve the profitability and sustainability of macadamia nut farms in South Africa. The Californian agriculture sector is world renowned for their almond, pistachio and walnut production. Many of the farms have been in existence for over 100 years and have fine tuned their production.

Drought and water restrictions are also issues that plague Californian farmers, but careful planning and regular dialogue has prevented the scarcity of water from crippling farms. Sutton explains, “California has a very dry climate and they are dependent on water that is in the catchment area of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. This water is channeled down two rivers and then to various dams and canals for agricultural use. The canals are impeccably run and the planning that they have put into the water distribution systems is impressive.” “Furthermore they have implemented modern technologies and metering systems that are not even available in South Africa. These systems can, with very little labour, control exactly how many millimetres of water each tree is getting and when. This means that no tree in the orchard is ever over or under irrigated and they experience no stress so can produce nuts optimally.” Sutton said that South Africa was in a climate where farmers are desperate for water yet the wastage seen on farms and canal boards was problematic. “We can learn a lot from how the Americans run their water systems.”