A new research programme, the Macadamia Protection Programme (MaPP), was launched to address threats posed by pests and diseases in the macadamia nut industry. South Africa is the second largest macadamia nut producer in the world and the industry is regarded as the fastest growing tree-crop industry in the country.

The Forestry and Agricultural Biotechnology Institute (FABI) at the University of Pretoria and the Southern African Macadamia Growers’ Association (SAMAC) have established a collaborative research partnership in this regard to ensure the long-term sustainability of the macadamia nut industry.

Promoting tree health in the macadamia nut industry. The Forestry and Agricultural Biotechnology Institute (FABI) at the University of Pretoria and the Southern African Macadamia Growers’ Association (SAMAC) combined forces in managing solutions for pests and diseases in the macadamia nut industry. From the left are Walter Giuricich, SAMAC chairman, Prof Jean Lubuma, dean of the Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences and Prof Mike Wingfield, director of FABI.

The industry is threatened by a number of pests and diseases that can cause significant economic losses. In addition, the continuous build-up of resistance towards commercially available pesticides and chemicals is of great concern to growers.

“In order to ensure the long-term sustainability of the macadamia industry, growers need to move towards alternative control and management strategies. The overall focus of the MaPP will be to assist in the development of commercially viable biological control options, as well as alternative management strategies,” says Prof Mike Wingfield, director of FABI. The programme will also aim to conduct research that assists in the selection of resistant or tolerant cultivars.

The newly established MaPP will also collaborate with existing research groups within FABI, including the Tree Protection Co-operative Programme, the Centre of Excellence in Tree Health Biotechnology and the Fruit Tree Biotechnology Programme. This will provide substantial synergy for all of these programmes focused broadly on promoting tree health. – Marti Kirstein, FarmBiz

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Record US dollar prices expected for macadamia nuts in 2017

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