South Africa’s 2015 Young Farmer of the Year Ant Goble, who was recently appointed as SAMAC vice-chairperson, says the nomination and election to the position means he now has an ideal opportunity to serve an industry which has become vitally important for the survival of so many sugarcane growers in KwaZulu-Natal.

Goble was elected to the position at the industry body’s Annual General Meeting in October last year.

“This gives me a real chance to serve other growers and to help them to move forward and improve or grow their operations. I want to give back to the macadamia industry as it is a sector on which we now depend so heavily,” he said.

As the country’s sugar industry continues to decline, macadamia nuts have become an increasingly important diversification option for many cane growers, particularly in KwaZulu-Natal.

Goble farms in the Upper Tongaat area in KwaZulu-Natal with 220ha under Beaumont, A4, 816, 814 and Nelmac2, all under drip irrigation and fertigation.

He also has 2 300ha under sugarcane and serves as the Local Grower Council chairman for the industry member-body SA Canegrowers.

Goble said he was expecting a good crop this year after what he termed “a long wait”. “I first planted 6ha of macadamias fourteen years ago. Our youngest trees have been in the ground for six months. We have just started harvesting and the nuts coming off our three-to five-year old trees are really looking good,” he said.