16 May 2011

Macadamia nut growers form co-operative

6:00 am on 16 May 2011

A group of macadamia nut growers have formed their first co-operative as they try to build a sustainable, long-term industry.

The project is being led by a director of Torere Macadamias tree nursery, Vanessa Hayes, with funding from the Government's Sustainable Farming Fund.

Ms Hayes says about 180 tonnes of macadamia kernel was imported from Australia last year.

She says local growers can only supply about a quarter of that volume, so the industry has huge potential.

Ms Hayes says New Zealand's industry has struggled for many years based on not having the right varieties to make it commercially viable.

She says many growers have small blocks and grow macadamias on a part time basis, but, with new varieties, there's a tendency to grow more on bigger areas.

Ms Hayes says these growers understand what the yields are and what the returns will be - information which will make it a better, more commercially viable industry.

She says the money will be used to set up the co-op with the right share structure for the growers, who have anything between 250 and 2500 macadamia trees.

The grower co-operative will also track harvesting yields and longer term lay the foundation for a co-operative marketing agency for all the nuts produced.