Nut industry in SA experiencing a boom, but has problems

Dr Pieter Mulder

The nut industry in South Africa is experiencing a boom and offers enormous possibilities for all role-players as the increasing demand for this product is much bigger than that which the producers can deliver at present, Dr. Pieter Mulder, deputy minister of agriculture forestry and fisheries said.

He said the statutory levies which have been instituted by the department of agriculture has been a step in the right direction and should contribute to the further development of the industry by establishing the necessary funds for research, technology and the implementation of quality regulations.

It should make a contribution to the protection of South African producers and make the industry more competitive internationally.

According to Dr. Mulder, the dietary value of nuts is increasingly being realised now and nuts are viewed as an important component of a healthy, balanced diet which lowers cholesterol and reduces the risk of cardio-vascular diseases.

The South African Heart Foundation recommends pecan nuts in general to be a healthier alternative. It is free from protein and high in fibre and contains high levels of minerals such as calcium, iron, phosphor, calcium and vitamins such as vitamins A, E, B1, B2 and niacin.

“The nut industry is growing consistently and offers exciting new opportunities. South Africa is however a small role-player in the global nut industry. There is an increasing demand for nut products in South Africa which is much bigger than our current levels of production.

“In 2012 South Africa imported 7 000 tons of nuts. This in itself offers many opportunities, but also many challenges.

“The forecasts indicate that the pecan nut sub-sector will be growing by between 20% and 30% annually for the next ten years.

“The current year’s production was poor due to climate and other factors. It is estimated that 2014 could produce a harvest of 10 000 Mt (metric tons) which will be double the 2013 harvest.

“The average production value for this year will amount to R360 million and between 90% and 95% of all pecan nuts cultivated in the country is still being exported. The pecan nut industry therefore makes a big contribution to South Africa’s exports of agricultural products.

“The important role of the South African Pecan Nut Producers Association in the past more than 20 years cannot be denied. They have played a big role in the fact that the pecan nut industry, according to me, has matured,” Dr. Mulder said.

This is that the wrong perceptions which some people have about land and land ownership have to be changed, the importance of food security must be established further and security on farms must be dealt with by making farm murders a priority crime.

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