SAMAC R&D manager says the best is yet to come for mac sector

SAMAC R&D manager says the best is yet to come for mac sector

Pictured above: Dr Elrea Strydom has driven macadamia production innovation as the Research and Development manager at Macadamias South Africa (SAMAC) since 2019.

The Macadamia’s agriculture journalist Lindi Botha spoke to the scientist about the research projects that excite her most, influencing government policy, and why she believes the best is yet to come for the macadamia-producing sector.

When and how did your journey in this industry begin?

I joined SAMAC in March 2019 as R&D manager in the then newly formed SAMAC NPC. Since then, it has been a privilege to manage the “R&D machine” with the rest of the team, the SAMAC board, and members of our various sub-committees and committees.

What fascinates you about macadamias?

Perennial tree crops are complex systems. Working with them is fascinating because it is very technical, and I still learn something new every day. Compared with many other industries, the macadamia sector is still quite young, meaning even seasoned growers and technical advisors are continuously learning. We are still unravelling many of the basics of this complex system.

I was reminded of this at the recent Global Research Focus at this year’s International Macadamia Symposium in KwaZulu-Natal. More than 50 macadamia researchers from around the world, technical advisors, and related roleplayers were able to draft a two-page list of everything we still do not know about the crop. The list is daunting, but it shows us where the knowledge gaps are and where there are opportunities in the future.

What research is most needed to ensure a sustainable future for macadamia nut production in South Africa?

Growers must be sustainable both ecologically and economically. The ecological component of sustainability will become increasingly important in future as the pressure on growers intensifies from consumers, banks and regulatory bodies, to name but a few. We also focus on ecological sustainability in our research programme by looking into biological control of key pests, optimising water usage, and lowering carbon footprints.

The economic component is equally important, as growers and the industry cannot survive if they are not profitable. The past 18 months have reminded us that the only way to be sustainable financially, in the long run, is to be efficient. We must get the basics right, and SAMAC is therefore systematically revisiting and updating management best practices and reiterating these to the industry.

Growers will have to make informed, data-driven decisions to remain efficient in future. SAMAC is working to support growers in this regard through the SAMAC Integrator – an industry database and dashboard to bolster decision-making.

Regarding government policies to enhance the sector, what is most needed?

I think what is most important is that the government focuses on its mandate to create an enabling and stable environment for agriculture to flourish. SAMAC has good relationships with the government and will continue to be the voice of the industry in the appropriate forums.

If there were one piece of research you wished everyone in the industry would take note of, what would it be?

That would be like asking which of my two girls is my favourite! I strongly believe that our mandate is to develop technology and solutions for the industry, keeping in mind technology is any piece of knowledge that can be applied practically. That technology or tool can be a national map of macadamia orchards, the SAMAC Integrator, a pheromone, a natural enemy for a pest, or just information which enhances our understanding of something or improves best practices – for example, knowing what time of the year is best to test or control for a specific disease. As I mentioned earlier, in many areas we are ironing out the basics, and some projects are stepping-stones which build momentum to get to the “flashy” outcome – but are just as important.

Regarding the future of the industry – where do you see it in 10 years’ time, and what will be the biggest drivers for success? 

I am very positive – because we have a nutrient-dense, premium, and versatile product that “ticks all boxes” for consumers, now and in the future. I am positive about the opportunity to potentially increase average yields so growers can build sustainable businesses, and I also hope we will move towards more basic standards across many areas.

SAMAC is a modern, innovative, and agile organisation capable of leading the industry into the future. Over the past four and a half years it has done great work to make the sector more cohesive and organised, which I think is crucial to move forward. The structures it has put in place (such as the R&D programme and being a founding member of the World Macadamia Organisation) have gained momentum and will pay dividends in the future.

Ambermacs Macadamia Expo Feb 8th And 9th 2024

Ambermacs Macadamia Expo Feb 8th And 9th 2024

Ambermacs is hosting its third major 2-day Macadamia Expo on 8th and 9th February 2024, the biggest expo of its kind, featuring over 180 exhibitors and a number of excellent guest speakers who will be hosting a series of seminars and presentations on macadamia farming and the industry in general. Parking available for 1000 cars this year with shuttle service provided by Safari Jeeps.

This event is a must for anyone involved in the macadamia industry. Tickets are R50 per person and all visitors must register online for tickets (limited to 3000 entries). There will be food and drink provided by a variety of vendors, and drinks with Gin & Co and the Thirsty Bartender amongst others. Entry will only be granted upon presentation of a ticket at the gate on the days of the event and the first 1000 visitors will receive a goodie bag of gifts provided by our sponsors and exhibitors. Radio Laeveld will be broadcasting from the venue for the two days and Voodoo Kudu will be playing live on Friday afternoon from 1-6pm.

For more information on exhibitors, seminars and guest speakers, please visit our Expo page online at

See you in February!


Ambermacs Macadamia Expo Feb 8th and 9th 2024

AmberMacs Factory

Plot 88, Old Plaston Road Mpumulanga, White River, 1240

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Land Bank holds out begging bowl to government – Business Maverick today

Land Bank holds out begging bowl to government – Business Maverick today

The Land Bank has become another basket case state-owned entity (SOE) facing a smothering cash-crunch — and it is eyeing SA’s deteriorating public finances for emergency assistance. 

The SOE that extends loans to emerging and established farmers wants financial help from the government and existing lenders after it defaulted on some of its debt payment obligations.

That the Land Bank defaulted on the obligations to lenders of about R738-million, which matures before the end of April 2020, means that the SOE is facing serious cash-flow issues and cannot continue with its mandate of disbursing loans to farmers on a large scale. 

The Land Bank, which estimates that it provides 28% of SA’s agricultural debt, has decided to make “limited” loan disbursements to the sector.

The bank had total assets amounting to R52.4-billion during its 2019 financial year, of which R44.5-billion comprised loans to farmers. Beyond lending, the Land Bank also provides insurance cover to farmers from risks such as natural disasters, fire, flooding and theft. 

But the default on its debt obligations to unnamed lenders is a blow to the bank, which recently hired Ayanda Kanana as permanent CEO in February 2020 to stabilise an entity that doesn’t enjoy unfettered financial support from the government, unlike SAA and Eskom.

In January, the Land Bank was downgraded to junk status by Moody’s Investors Service, with the credit rating agency saying the bank has a declining quality of assets, as seen in the rise of its soured loans, which made the bank’s profile riskier than the general banking sector. The value of loan impairments (money that may never be collected from borrowers) reached R324.7-million in 2019, a nearly six-fold increase from R55.5-million in 2018. 

The bank asks for help 

The Land Bank says the Moody’s downgrade was the straw that broke its back. Now the Land Bank has asked for help from its lenders, including multilateral development finance institutions such as the World Bank and African Development Bank. 

“[The] Land Bank is engaging with its funders to request for a debt standstill and deferral of settlements for a predetermined period to enable the bank to develop a business plan, restructure its balance sheet and negotiate a restructuring of its liabilities with funders,” the bank told Business Maverick on Tuesday 28 April.

The bank wants to raise up to R5-billion from lenders to meet its medium-term liquidity requirements, including an agreement for lenders to defer interest on their due debt.

“There is a general willingness by all parties to find solutions for the restoration of liquidity and sustainability of the bank.”

But before lenders agree to throw a lifeline to the Land Bank, some want the government to first make an undertaking to financially assist the bank.

Finance Minister Tito Mboweni is open to this, saying at a press conference on Friday 24 April:

“The Land Bank has come under severe stress… It is in trouble and our responsibility is to support the Land Bank.” 

The support may come in the form of government guarantees that the Land Bank can use to solicit further funding from lenders. A guarantee is an agreement that the government or the fiscus would pay the Land Bank’s debt if it defaults on payments. In February, the National Treasury provided the Land Bank with government guarantees of R5.7-billion, but has only used R1.4-billion. The bank says it has requested further guarantees to support its fundraising efforts.

Land Bank’s debt instruments 

The Land Bank has defaulted on two domestic medium-term note (DMTN) programmes that were launched in 2010 and 2017. The programmes are debt instruments used by a company – at its discretion – to fund operational activities. To raise money in the open market, a company would issue debt or notes to lenders with a promise of paying back the money with a fixed and floating interest rate at a later stage. 

For its 2019 financial year, the Land Bank had outstanding debt or notes amounting to R13.4-billion under its DMTN programme. The default of some of the debt under the programme, which has occurred, can prompt all lenders to ask the Land Bank to immediately pay back all outstanding amounts (R13.4-billion). 

It’s unclear if all outstanding amounts under its DMTN programme are guaranteed by the government, which will be forced to pay lenders R13.4-billion if the Land Bank defaults on all outstanding debt. Asked if the DMTN programme is backed by government guarantees, the bank says:

“We prefer not to publicly share this information at this time of the bank’s engagements with funders.”

Lenders could also opt to liquidate the Land Bank, which would spark a fire sale of the SOE’s assets, to recoup the money they are owed. The Land Bank confirmed to Business Maverick that not all noteholders (lenders) demanded the repayment of the money they are owed. BM

Image: Business Maverick

Article: Ray Mahlaka


Field visit confirms near extinction of the world’s rarest macadamia from Aussie bushfires

Field visit confirms near extinction of the world’s rarest macadamia from Aussie bushfires

A group of dedicated enthusiasts braved the fire ravaged landscape in central Queensland’s remote Bulburin rainforest on April 14 for the first time since the disaster to see how Macadamia jansenii, a species as rare as the country’s Wollemi Pine, had fared.

Field naturalist and retired sugarcane farmer, Keith Sarnadsky who was a member of the team allowed to inspect the fire damage for the first time after roads into the park were cleared of fallen trees said almost all of the small Mj trees touched by fire appeared to be dead.

Some of the larger plants may have died due to their own stump burning, but some now have suckers appearing. Most of the dead plants didn’t appear to have had extremely hot fire around them,” Sarnadsky said.
The discovery of about 150 trees in 2018 had trebled the known population of Macadamia jansenii, or the “Mj”, a species first recognised by the modern scientific community in 1992. Sarnadsky who found the new trees over several expeditions in the spring of 2018, was also on the 1983 expedition when cane farmer Ray Jansen initially discovered the Macadamia jansenii species, the first new macadamia in 120 years.

Denise Bond, executive officer of MCT, said until FAME (the Foundation for Australia’s Most Endangered Species) funded any further searches for Macadamia jansenii in 2018, it was not even known that the new trees existed.
“We were thrilled when Keith discovered these new trees to add to the tiny original population of 60 individuals, but that same year wildfire came within 10km of the habitat, and now our fears have been realised with the December 2019 fires burning at least a third of the new trees,” Bond said.
“We hoped they were safe, nestled in sub-tropical rainforest, but we have been proved wrong. Luckily, we have a small but dedicated team of traditional owners, the Gidarjil Rangers, amateur and professional botanists, researchers and park rangers who are passionate about protecting this endangered macadamia and the subtropical rainforest that sustains it. We’re applying for funding to increase fire and weed management across the Bulburin landscape.”
Ian McConachie, an MCT founding member, said as the Mj grows in an area that is much hotter than the commercial macadamias, it is likely to have genes that will be used in the future to mitigate the effects of global warming.
Leaf samples taken from the newly discovered Mj are currently being analysed to see how the genetic diversity of the population is distributed across its habitat. The 43 original trees have meanwhile been cloned, with new trees being grown in botanic gardens across Australia as part of an “insurance population”.
MCT aims to learn more about the ecology and genetics of Macadamia jansenii and preserve its genetic diversity in ex-situ plantings as well as increasing the range of its current habitat, particularly in anticipation of the impacts of climate change.
The Australian non-profit is the world’s only charity devoted to conserving macadamias.

Caption: New life brings hope after fires burn rare macadamias   Image credit: Keith Sarnadsky

bauma CONEXPO AFRICA 2021: concept re-engineered

bauma CONEXPO AFRICA 2021: concept re-engineered

bauma CONEXPO AFRICA 2021: concept re-engineered

Africa’s key construction machinery trade show revamped with new opportunities for industry

bauma CONEXPO AFRICA, Sub Saharan Africa’s Leading Trade Fair for Construction, Building Material, Mining, Agriculture & Forestry Machines, Machinery and Vehicles will be back in South Africa in 2021 with a new look and an expanded focus, to deliver enhanced cross-sector growth opportunities in sub-Saharan Africa.

Already the premier trade show for construction and mining machinery, bauma CONEXPO AFRICA will now also feature agricultural and forestry equipment and machinery. This will give government bodies, developers, contractors, industry associations, financiers and other sector stakeholders a one-stop overview of the latest services and solutions available across the infrastructure development, construction, forestry and agriculture value chain.

bauma CONEXPO AFRICA is one of Messe München’s six international bauma events, and is modelled on bauma in Munich, in collaboration with AEM, organizer of CONEXPO-CON/AGG. bauma is described as the ultimate trade fair in the industry, attracting over 620,000 international visitors while CONEXPO-CON/AGG is the leading industry exhibition in the North American market. As a gateway for international companies to the African market and for African enterprises to the global market, bauma CONEXPO AFRICA attracted around 15,000 high-level visitors and exhibitors in 2018 and expects these numbers to increase significantly in 2021.

Addressing Africa’s industry challenges

“Africa’s construction and infrastructure development sectors are facing economic challenges at the moment; therefore we have engaged industry leaders to discuss ways in which bauma CONEXPO AFRICA could more effectively support industry growth. As a result of their input, we have re-engineered this key event to foster greater cross-border collaboration and highlight business growth opportunities, and we will feature solutions that enable businesses to operate smarter and more cost-effectively,” says Suzette Scheepers, CEO of Messe Muenchen South Africa. “We have also revisited our sponsorship and exhibitor packages to deliver significant additional value.”

With an expanded African focus, bauma CONEXPO AFRICA plans to host buyer and diplomatic delegations from across sub-Saharan Africa, and to actively foster interaction and business exchange between the region’s governments and private sector.

The latest equipment and services

Among the solutions to be on show will be agricultural machinery and tractors, machinery and plants for the production of building material, construction and mining equipment, engineering services, occupational safety products and services, plant hire services, quantity surveying technologies, and forestry machinery.

High-level industry conference

In addition to showcasing the latest international products and solutions, bauma CONEXPO AFRICA will host a high-level industry conference, Africa Forum, focusing on trends, challenges and opportunities across sub-Saharan Africa. At the conference, industry experts will discuss key issues such as infrastructure investment, the ROI on public-private partnerships, and China’s role in mining and infrastructure in Africa.

Business-boosting supporting programme

bauma CONEXPO AFRICA will also feature a strong supporting programme including CPD accredited Workshops and Masterclasses, Tech Talk Forum sessions covering topical issues, product demonstrations and the University Innovation Awards. The trade show will also facilitate B2B meetings, dedicate sessions to women in industry, and will showcase up and coming entrepreneurs, giving them an opportunity to network with local and international industry leaders.

bauma CONEXPO AFRICA will be staged at the Gallagher Convention Centre in Johannesburg from 13 – 16 October 2021. Discounted Early Bird exhibitor packages and comprehensive new sponsorship packages are now available. For more information, contact the South African office For international enquiries email




Issued by ITP Communications on behalf of Messe Muenchen SA. For further information please contact Leigh Angelo at or Tel: (011) 869 9153.

CMT’s 6th Commercial Farm Africa – Nairobi, KENYA 30-31 Oct, 2019

CMT’s 6th Commercial Farm Africa – Nairobi, KENYA 30-31 Oct, 2019

With Africa’s population set to double by 2050, experts say the continent must replace traditional farming methods in favour of modern technology. African agricultural industries have been hampered by multiple problems, including lack of best agricultural practices, high input costs, climate change, poor land tenure systems, and limited access to financing.

Public and private sectors are starting to invest more effort to transform Africa’s agricultural landscape. They include; modernizing farm operations through innovative technologies like  digital software, drones and precision farming tools, investing in agro related & value-added processing industries, and upgrading post-harvest storage facilities to boost farm productivity.

Agco Africa provides mechanization for key agriculture project in Mozambique –

Zimbabwe government signs a US $50m deal with John Deere for tractor supply –

Precision farming taking off in South Africa –

Lots of growth strategy plans have been announced by the African government authorities in setting up new farm lands to promote commercialization of the agricultural sector.

Commercial farming is garnering interests from local and international investors due to the emerging food processing sector which creates a strong market for farm owners.

Poland to invest in Tanzania’s agriculture sector through irrigation farming –

Chinese companies explore investment opportunities in agriculture and livestock sectors in Ethiopia –

Korean to invest 133bn /-in coffee plantation and processing plant –

Attend 6th Commercial Farm Africa Summit in Nairobi to address key challenges & explore new opportunities in this sector.

Key Sessions:

  • LMC forecasts price trends in grains, oil crops, cash crops
  • KENYAN MINISTRY OF LIVESTOCK, FISHERIES & AGRICULTURE presents country’s agricultural transformation & growth strategy
  • OLAM INTERNATIONAL assesses the impact of African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AFCFTA) on agriculture
  • SGS shares how data capturing can enhance overall profitability of a farming operation
  • Case studies on application of regenerative agriculture for today’s climatic context by SOIL CAPITAL
  • [INTERACTIVE SESSION] Multistakeholder Dialogue: Access To Innovative Financing
  • KIPKEBE LTD on boosting the bottomline through farm mechanization
  • NOBEL AZANIA INVESTMENTS features a case study of large scale sisal farming in Tanzania
  • AFRO-TSION FARM reveals coffee plantation & processing plant investment projects in Ethiopia
  • HORIZON PLANTATION assesses the potential of commercial farm investment in Ethiopia
  • HYDROPONICS AFRICA speaks on revolutionizing crop farming through hydroponic systems & responsive drip irrigation
Sign up now with for early bird discounts. Send a group of 3 to enjoy further discounts.
For details of the event, please visit