RedSun Hortitech, a 5-star accredited commercial nursery based in Tzaneen, Limpopo South Africa, has invested in multi-million-rand facilities aimed to increase the availability of quality macadamia and avocado trees. The investment comes as a result of the sustained global demand and growth opportunities for avocados and macadamias.
An overview of the industry
Avocados and macadamias have been dubbed as “superfood heroes”. This is largely as a result of popular food trends and changes in eating habits across the globe. In recent years, more and more people are moving away from eating meat and dairy, which has opened up a world of opportunity for healthy fat and protein substitutes. The versatility and health benefits of avocados and macadamias have made it easy for people to supplement these into their diets as alternatives. These dietary changes have led to an increased demand for this versatile fruit and nuts, along with innovative plant-based foods.
Globally tree nut consumption has increased 24% over the last ten years with their value increasing by 473%. Locally, macadamia production reached 53 500 MT NIS in 2019, with most of this destined for export, while half of this year’s 125 000 MT avocado production is set to be exported. South Africa is the biggest producer of macadamias globally, now followed by East African countries, including Kenya and Tanzania, and Australia.
In terms of avocados, South Africa is about the nineteenth-biggest avocado producer and the twelfth-largest exporter of avocados. With more plantings expected to elevate the country to about ninth position in the coming years. The increase in avocado demand translates into major economic expansion and growth opportunities for the South African industry. In fact, the local avocado industry is growing at more than 1,000 hectares per annum, with further expansion expected in the production of clonal nursery trees. Aside from expansion, there is approximately a 15% tree replacement annually with older varieties and low producing orchards being replaced with new rootstocks and varieties.
“The demand for macadamia and avocados globally has created an opportunity for South Africa as a whole to grow this agricultural sector. As global leaders in the production of macadamias, we need to create centres of agriculture excellence that aim to advance the industry, which is why we have invested in these new facilities. We understand the need for striving to provide the industry with better trees that are ready on time. We are committed to support farmers to farm better, not bigger by achieving higher yields per hectare to meet growing demand,” says Mark Hassenkamp, Managing Director of RedSun Hortitech.
RedSun Hortitech’s new facilities
The facilities have been designed using state-of-the-art systems and technology and comprise of several different divisions. These divisions include specialised motherblocks, climatised storage, germination, transplanting, grafting, etiolation, rooting, weaning, grow-out and hardening facilities. Each section has its own infrastructure and management team that facilitate the different growth and developmental stages that the trees go through. While the facilities provide climate controls and excellent growing conditions, nothing replaces outstanding people and attention to detail. It is our people that bring it all together for our farmers.
The on-site motherblocks have been built over the past three years. They contain all the main and unique controlled rootstocks, seed and cultivars required for propagation and matching the best rootstocks and cultivars to climates and growing conditions. Seed, rootstock and cultivar motherblocks assure the close monitoring, testing and traceability needed for disease free and high yielding genetic materials for nursery propagation, on site. These motherblocks are also essential in mitigating Avocado Sunblotch Virus (ASBV), which is a growing industry challenge. Traceability, indexed motherblock material that is tightly controlled and continually tested as well as working with the avocado industry to bring new and more efficient ASBV testing facilities online are essential to ensure all avocado materials are virus free. We believe the same pest and disease risks hold true for macadamias as the industry grows. The learnings from avocados (and other tree crop industries) are invaluable for sharing and ensuring that best practices can be maintained and advanced continually.
GLOBALG.A.P. and ANA Accreditations
RedSun Hortitech’s new facilities along with the SGASA and SAMAC accreditations have added a GLOBALG.A.P. and ANA accreditation to its list of certifications.
“Our business strives to be innovative and to lead the macadamia and avocado nursery industry. At the heart of the business is a drive for simpler, better and faster processes that supports growers and aims to grow the industry as a whole. We want to ensure that the demand for better trees, better yields and a growing competitive industry is being met. Our business is firmly focused on the future of farming, and being accredited is an important aspect of this,” says Hassenkamp.
The GLOBALG.A.P. accreditation sets the global standard for food safety and sustainability. It is an internationally recognised standard for farm production. The goal of this certification is to ensure traceability, safe and sustainable agricultural production to benefit farmers, retailers and consumers throughout the world. At RedSun want to ensure our processes are consistent, repeatable and that our staff are well trained in best practices to achieve excellent results.
This standard demands, among other things, greater efficiency in production processes. It improves business performance and reduces the waste of all resources. It also requires an innovative approach to farming that builds in best practices for generations to come.
RedSun Hortitech is the first macadamia and avocado nursery to receive the GlobalG.A.P. accreditation in the country. We intend to achieve better competitiveness and consistent, excellent tree quality for our growers.
The facility has also received the ANA accreditation which is facilitated by The South African Avocado Growers Association and is given as a result of a strict audit of the nursey facility including tree quality, pest and disease risk management and mitigation. The ultimate objective of this audit is to ensure that the nursery is producing quality trees for the avocado industry that are true to type and free from any harmful pests and diseases. The audit is based on standards of safety, sustainability as well as stringent phytosanitary and record keeping requirements. RedSun Hortitech is proud to say that we received a +90% 5 Star Avocado Nursery Association accreditation.
“These accreditations reduce the risk for our business, and more importantly, for our customers. The accreditations are annually renewable, and the business is accredited based on compliance but also on demonstrating a process of continuous improvement every year with innovation, tree quality, customer feedback and sustainability being a focus. This is a significant challenge against the +95% scores achieved, but it is a positive challenge,” says Hassenkamp.
Agriculture and farming are changing, and the industry is evolving quickly to achieve higher standards of delivery and compliance with farmers being driven to achieve higher yields with lower costs and less water. “We have exciting infotech and biotech available to our industries that contribute towards increasing standards, innovations and assurances to our farmers and end consumers. We are committed to investing in the future of food and farming in Southern Africa, with both the new facilities and the accompanying accreditations. Of course, this is meaningless without the close and ongoing interaction with our growers to improve quality, service, support and to measure the relevance of ideas and opportunities to be sure these will translate into better field results and a thriving industry. Our focus remains on how to continually improve and to provide the best quality trees and support to farmers. We want to continue to move the benchmark higher and higher, but in the end success is measured on the farm” concludes Hassenkamp.