Pictured Above: Howard Blight, second generation farmer and owner of Amorentia Estate & Nursery, urges farmers to plant young trees in preparation for the market upswing he believes is on its way.

While the world’s macadamia industry has suffered as a direct result of the Covid-19 pandemic and the invasion of Ukraine by Russia, with input costs sky-rocketing and demand bottoming out, a return to high prices is on the cards, says noted horticulturalist.

Some macadamia farmers are concerned that the current lower prices are an indication of a long-term downward trend in demand, and have halted all expansion. But Howard Blight, second generation farmer and owner of Amorentia Estate & Nursery in the Politsi valley, just outside Tzaneen, believes now is the time to plant up new orchards.

“I am positive that the market will stabilise soon and unless you plant now, you will not be able to enjoy the upturn when this happens,” he says.

Amorentia Estate in the Politsi valley is well-signposted for visitors

Global factors

The two major global factors having a negative influence on the macadamia market were Covid-19, with the extended Chinese lockdown; and the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which caused serious shipping blockages, high input costs and a global inflation rise.

The nuts could not be channelled effectively through traditional markets and unlike perishables, unsold macadamia stock was carried over, resulting in the 2023 season kicking off with a surplus in supply.

However, Blight is convinced all indicators point to the turning of the corner, but at the same time, he warns fellow producers to remain patient.

“It can take two seasons to create new market channels and to level out excess supply, which should result in increased demand and higher prices. Even though processors foresee growth in China, as macadamias are still cheaper than pecan nuts and pistachios, the reality is, new products take between 18 and 24 months to gain traction. We know that with time, these obstacles will be corrected but while this happens, role-players, especially the farmers, need to cut their costs as much as possible and optimise quality.”

He has 45ha under macadamias on his farm, and the nuts in-shell are exported to China, while the kernels find their way to European and American markets. Most of their plantings are 791s and Beaumont, but the entire range of macadamia cultivars is planted on the farm for close monitoring and record-keeping purposes.

This data is invaluable for nursery marketing and advice, as all nursery material originates from mother blocks established on the farm, and has been monitored and recorded for many years.

Healthy 816s ready for planting at the Amorentia nursery

Mother material

The mother material used for propagation, which originates from these production blocks, is more than 25 years old and backed by data confirming a history of high performance. As a result, growers buying macadamia trees from Amorentia will get high-yield potential from the start. Blight said they also control the complete propagation process and do not rely on third parties for scions or cuttings.

This eliminates the risk of cultivar confusion and the spread of dreaded pests and diseases.

The nursery is celebrating its 50th birthday this year, making Amorentia the oldest macadamia tree propagators in South Africa.

The commitment to provide pest- and disease-free plant material has earned Amorentia accreditation from the South African Subtropical Growers’ Association (SGASA) and opened global markets for the trees.

This recognition is proof of the nursery’s adherence to the industry’s best practices and the high standards upheld in its operations.

A recent inspection also confirmed the macadamia trees were completely free from the felted coccid moth.

Blight’s focus on pest and disease control translates into healthier macadamia trees. Healthier trees mean higher-quality nuts and longer lifespans. This reduces the need for frequent replanting and enhances the profitability and sustainability of clients.

The expansive macadamia nursery at Amorentia Estate outside Tzaneen.


The business exhibited at the 9th International Macadamia Symposium 2023 (IMS) in September at the Capital Hotel in Zimbali KwaZulu-Natal. “We had the opportunity to interact with members from all facets of the industry, and the general energy, although cautious, was one of optimism,” he says.

Processors reported a steadier flow of product into the traditional channels, while new products are being launched into the market.

“The creation of a broader scope for our nuts will have a great impact on future production,” he adds.

With a passion for education and knowledge transfer, Blight founded AGRICOLLEGES International in 2015, which empowers students through cloud-based and shared e-learning of agricultural content, and promotes the principles of sustainable production to further food security worldwide.

He also played a huge role in converting the area’s local English primary school into a model C school in the early 1990s and served on the board of directors that was responsible for establishing Stanford Lake College, a private school, just outside Tzaneen.

Blight has established a consultation service for macadamia and avocado farmers across southern Africa and been actively involved in the establishment of hundreds of hectares of sub-tropical fruit and nut orchards for small-scale farmers.

From humble beginnings and led by Blight’s pioneering spirit, Amorentia has grown into a highly diversified small farming enterprises, employing 120 people