Duxton’s Agri Bits and Pieces – Vol. 338
Posted on: June 13th, 2017


This week’s quote of the week comes from Chris Perry and Pasquale Steduto of the Food and Agricultural Organisation discussing whether improvements to irrigation technology lead to real water savings.

“From the individual farmer’s perspective, hi-tech irrigation makes water delivered to the farm more profitable: he or she can irrigate a larger area, obtain higher yields, and perhaps switch to higher value crops. These effects combine to make water an even more valuable input, making pumping more affordable, and increasing the incentives that the farmer has to obtain more water. In sum, the predictable impact of “more efficient” irrigation is to increase current consumption, and to increase demand for water.”


Booming demand for macadamias is transforming farmland in eastern South Africa, as landowners switch focus from bananas and sugarcane to the creamy nuts used in sweet treats from ice cream to cookies.

First introduced in South Africa in the 1960s, evergreen macadamia nut trees are grown on farms across the Limpopo, Mpumalanga and KwaZulu-Natal provinces, with about 2,000 hectares (5,000 acres) being added every year. The country, which vies with Australia as the top grower and exporter, produced about 28 percent of the world’s total output in 2015, according to data from the International Nut and Dried Fruit Council.

“The macadamia story is a beautiful one,” said Richard Mattison, one of the biggest private growers in South Africa, who has about 600 hectares of the trees on his farm near Port Edward, south of the coastal city of Durban.

“In 2009, we got about 5 rand ($0.38) a kilogram of nuts. Now we’re getting between 110 and 120 rand.”

Estimated global consumption of macadamia nut kernels surged 59 percent between 2010 and 2014, according to INC data. Yet the nuts, which are either sold in their shiny, brown shells or processed to extract a round kernel, only account for about 1 percent of global tree nut production, with almonds, cashews and walnuts leading the rankings.

South Africa’s output is likely to more than double by 2020, according to Alex Whyte, head of Europe, Middle East and Africa sales at the Green Farms Nut Company, which processes about 25 percent of the domestic crop. The country may harvest as much as 45,000 metric tons of nuts this year, according to the Southern African Macadamia Growers’ Association.

About 95 percent of production is exported, with China, the U.S. and Canada among the biggest buyers. South Africa was the top exporter of shelled macadamias in 2014, according to INC data.

Besides an expansion in planting — farmers added 7.5 million new trees last year — yields are also improving as growing techniques improve.

“From extracting between two to three tons a hectare, we’re now getting between six and seven tons,” said Mattison. Macadamia nut trees inter-crop well with bananas, making their cultivation a “no-brainer,” he said. “An established banana plantation provides the perfect micro-climate for a macadamia sapling.”


April 2017 was the second-warmest April in 137 years of modern record-keeping, according to a monthly analysis of global temperatures by scientists at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) in New York.

Last month was 0.88 degrees Celsius warmer than the mean April temperature from 1951-1980. The two top April temperature anomalies have occurred during the past two years.

The GISTEMP monthly temperature anomalies superimposed on a 1980-2015 mean seasonal cycle.

April 2016 was the hottest on record, at 1.06 degrees Celsius warmer than the April mean temperature. April 2017’s temperature was 0.18 degrees Celsius cooler than April 2016. This past April was only slightly warmer than the third warmest April, which occurred in 2010 and was 0.87 degrees warmer than the mean.

The monthly analysis by the GISS team is assembled from publicly available data acquired by about 6,300 meteorological stations around the world, ship- and buoy-based instruments measuring sea surface temperature, and Antarctic research stations. The modern global temperature record begins around 1880 because previous observations didn’t cover enough of the planet. Monthly analyses are sometimes updated when additional data becomes available, and the results are subject to change.




This week’s chart of the week comes from ABARES’s Food demand in Australia: Trends and food security issues displaying the long-term trends in Australian household food consumption. Over the past 25 years, imports have become a progressively more significant source of food for the household sector increasing from $4 billion in 1990 to $14 billion in 2016.





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