Disruption and innovation have dominated the headlines so far this year.

The world is reeling under the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic; the global economy is in ICU, the United States is back in the space race, thanks to South African-born innovator Elon Musk, and the #BlackLivesMatter movement has taken centre stage following the death of George Floyd at the hands of the American police.

News channels are filled with scenes of disruption, from the anti-China riots on the streets of Hong Kong to the cemeteries of South America, where the pandemic has raged since denialist policies by leaders in countries such as Brazil.

In New Zealand, the home of the people we love to hate on the rugby field, life has returned to normal as the island nation is the first to declare victory over the virus.

In South Africa, as the outbreak peaks, what we thought we knew about our health system is now confirmed. Reports are flooding in of the sick being turned away from understaffed and under-resourced hospitals, with some going so far as to say people are dying in the streets of cities such as Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape and Johannesburg in Gauteng.

The South African economy has tanked as thousands of people have lost their jobs or their businesses as a direct result of the national lockdown.

And, it’s definitely not business as usual in the country’s mac industry.

The impact of climate change has crept, almost unseen, into the country’s orchards, leaving researchers and experts calling on farmers to urgently re-think their pest, irrigation and soil management strategies.

At the start of the 2020 season the annual harvest was predicted to top 66 000 tons. But in early March, as the harvesters moved into the orchards, it became abundantly clear that Mother Nature was busy with some disruption of her own.

The initial crop prediction for this year was pegged at 66 000 tons. By March it was downgraded to 62 000 tons, and by the second quarter, tonnages had plunged to 49 503 tons. Some are now predicting it to drop even further by the end of the season.

So, what happened?

Excessive heat and the concomitant pest overloads in the orchards are to blame, according to experts. The devastation, they say, was further exacerbated by the overuse of pesticides and synthetic fertilisers by some farmers who are chasing profit rather than focusing on ethical processes.

Across the industry, researchers and those who know what they are talking about, are urging farmers to get back to basics, to attend to the health of their trees, to spend more time in their orchards and to adopt more environmentally acceptable strategies to mitigate climate change.

In short, read our articles on innovation in bio-ethical soil nutrients, the control of pests through hands-on management, and our experts’ tips on irrigation and the prevention of soil erosion.

Finally, and for something a little lighter, turn to our regular recipe page for the age-old practice of bread making, although in this instance with a macadamia twist.