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11 & 12 March 2020, Tzaneen

Maluma Avocado Symposium: 10 years of exponential growth

Next week sees the tenth edition of the Maluma avocado symposium in Tzaneen, Limpopo Province, a platform for sharing knowledge on avocados that has become increasingly popular among producers, who make up half of attendees, drawn from across the world.

Prof Neena Mitter, director of the Centre for Horticulture Science at the University of Queensland and her colleague Dr Jayeni Hiti-Bandaralage will explain the newest in avocado selection and breeding in the world, including cryo-preservation and tissue culture of avocados.

From the University of California, Riverside, the symposium will again host well-known avocado horticulturalist Dr Mary Lu Arpaia, who will share her perspectives on the Maluma from her unequalled experience in the field.

Dr Mary Lu Arpaia from the University of California-Riverside with Daniel Banai, avocado farmer from Israel, at the 2018 Maluma Symposium

Martijn de Graaf and Edwin van Leeuwen from Dutch fresh produce importer Yex have been invited to discuss Maluma’s role in the European market and what it will take to ensure ts sustainability as a full commercial cultivar.

“Getting together over 200 producers from one sector, around a single cultivar, is no mean feat,” says Zander Ernst, marketing director at Allesbeste Boerdery, owner of the Maluma cultivar. “We take over 300 people on a visit to various orchards in the Tzaneen area, a real privilege for us to share what we do.”

Zander Ernst in their pioneering high-density avocado trellised orchards, which they see as the future of avocado production

The Maluma cultivar is a mid-season avocado (last season it had a marketing period of 18 weeks) with the advantage that it is extremely heat-resilient. The global uptake of the cultivar has been brisk and the organisers of the symposium believe that the opportunities for the cultivar is endless.

Zander notes that despite initial scepticism of the cultivar a decade ago, the symposium has become a locus of positivity. “We’ve seen exponential growth in interest in the Maluma. In 2011 we decided we need to look at other industries to determine how we can shift the borders of avocado production, and where the Maluma could fit into that process."

Zander continues: "Without a doubt we can today say that the overwhelming feedback we have received over the last couple of years affirms that the Maluma really is doing pioneering work. Whether everyone agrees that we’re succeeding, is their fair right, but with what we are succeeding is getting people talking and re-considering everything around avocados, from production techniques to marketing.”

He is referring to their pioneering work with growing avocados on a trellis system, as part of a comprehensive pruning strategy, an approach that owes a lot to the influence of other sectors like apple production in the Western Cape. Such has been the success of that approach for them, that all of their new avocado orchards follow this model. Edrean Ernst, director at Allesbeste Boerdery, will present the economic case for following this approach.

A visit to their trellised avocados is always a highlight of the symposium, and will be so again this year.

The orchard visits are a highlight of the Maluma Symposium

“In all honesty, the interest and expansion of the cultivar has exceeded our wildest expectations. Maluma is without a doubt not anymore a niche cultivar but a commercial cultivar for all areas. Every year Maluma fights open greater market share in new plantings and consequently every year there are greater volumes marketed as Maluma.”

Registration for the symposium has closed, but as every year the proceedings can be followed via livestreaming on the dedicated Maluma Youtube channel.

For more information:
Maluma Avocado Symposium
Allesbeste Boerdery
Tel: +27 15 307 3076
+27 15 307 7650

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