South Africa: Avocado volumes too low to make profit

The past season has not been the best ever for South African avocado exporters, the market was good but volumes were so low that there was not a lot of profit to be made.

"We are looking forward to a good year next year," explains Clive Garrett. The tomato market is looking better after having been over supplied for a while and it is looking very promising for the avocados too."

This season was an off year for the avocado crop and volumes were very low, this was made worse by the drought situation in the country. Next year will be an on year and, as an industry, South Africa is expecting a bumper crop. Harvest is still a while away but growers are hoping that between now and harvest time there will no natural disasters.

"This past season was not so good for growers as the volumes were very low and only 11 million cartons were exported. We are hoping for a better season next year, I have heard figures of between 15-16 million cartons estimated for next season," said Clive.

"Prices were good but the growers were under so much pressure from the drought and most of the growers got hurt this year."

ZZ2 have a planned expansion of avocado acreage in place and are looking at planting 200-300 hectares each year and will continue with this steady increase for the next 4 or 5 years, although it could be more.

ZZ2 is the largest Maluma producer in the country, the variety is licensed through the Allebeste Nursery.

"The Maulma is a fantastic avocado and in the Moeketsi area where we grow it, it is slightly earlier than the other Hass avocados with a slightly bigger fruit and higher yields. A good crop on a normal Hass avocado would give 15-16 tonnes per hectare, the Maluma can yield in excess of 20 tonnes per hectare."

Water should not be a problem as the expansion continues, according to Clive. "The invader species which we are pulling out and replacing with avocados actually use more water than the avocado. So we are not taking water from local towns or rivers, we are actually freeing up water. Also we are not just planting anywhere, we are planting where there are resources, we are doing it responsibly and the irrigation systems we use are very efficient."

"The question of avocados using too much water is ridiculous, its just not true," according to Clive. "We are also removing eucalyptus trees which are like sponges and hold water and by taking out the invader plants and eucalyptus we are freeing up a lot of water."

ZZ2 will not be using nets at the moment as they are incredibly expensive and the risk does not justify the cost," explains Clive. "We also find that under the nets insects tend to accumulate and also we rely heavily on bees for pollination and are not sure what the effect of the nets would have on them. We have seen that the bees tend to lose their way under them which would affect the pollination, lowering yields."

Clive Garrett
M: +27 82 376 5685
T: +27 15 395 8460
Headoffice | Mooketsi | Limpopo | South Africa

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