DURBAN - Crookes Brothers is looking to increase the production of macadamia nuts by making more land available.
The group saw the production of macadamia crop increasing by 285 percent to 200 tons in the financial year to end March.
Crookes Brothers said the second macadamia harvest completed in May yielded 200 tons, dry nut-in-shell, from four and five-year old trees and this was 40 percent above its original feasibility for the 2018 crop year.
“With firm macadamia prices on global markets, we expect revenue from macadamias also to substantially exceed initial expectations,” the group said.
Crookes Brothers is currently in discussions with potential financiers to expand its macadamia orchards.
“We can report promising progress on our Mozambique macadamia project where we have recently completed our second harvest. Some 400 hectares of land currently under grain crops remains available for the expansion of the macadamia orchards,” the group said.
The group said to date 420 hectares of macadamias have been planted, marking the end of the first phase of the project.
The group is head quartered in KwaZulu-Natal and has agricultural operations in the KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga and Western Cape provinces as well as in Swaziland, Zambia and Mozambique.
Crookes Brothers is one of the agricultural groups that was hit hard by the persistent drought in country and it saw its profits declining by 70.47 percent for the six months to end September 2017.
The group will release its half-year results for the six months to end September 2018 in November. However, the group remains positive as the drought in the Western Cape is coming to an end.
Chief executive Guy Clarke commented in the annual report that deciduous fruit yields were 8 percent lower compared to the previous year.
“The situation was exacerbated by the impact of the drought in the Western Cape on deciduous fruit production,” he said.
As a result fruit quality was also below normal standards as a result of the drought with cane production also down in the past year in the aftermath of the Mpumalanga drought of 2015/16. Substantial areas destroyed by drought had to be replanted during the course of the year.
During the year cane production dropped by 6 percent to 556 710 tons, Deciduous fruit was 7 percent lower to 29 541 tons and bananas increase by 8 percent to 17 496 tons.
The group remains positive about the future as it expects global population to increase from around seven billion currently to over nine billion by 2050, with half of this increase occurring in Africa.
“At the same time global food consumption is expected to increase by 60 percent, driven by the increasing population and changing dietary patterns in the rapidly increasing middle classes in China, India and Africa,” the group said.
It said Africa was home to some 60 percent of the world’s unutilised agricultural land and water resource and offers numerous prime locations for agricultural development.
Crookes Brothers plans to capitalise on this opportunity, with a portfolio of quality farms producing a variety of commodity and high value crops in the region.
“The group has a proven track record of operational excellence and executing projects in often remote locations across Africa. It has established a strong reputation as a reliable, ethical and long-term partner committed to community development,” Crookes Brothers said.