At the moment, pecan nut farmers in the valley are harvesting. As was reported in our previous newsletter, these farmers suffer losses because of the large troops of Vervet monkeys that cause widespread damage. The annual harvesting season is also accompanied by large scale NIS theft, and you can be sure that those packets of nuts for sale along the roads, had been stolen somewhere.
As Rudi Snyman reports in the article below, there has been a dramatic increase of NIS theft in other parts of our country over the past few years, mainly as a result of a demand from China.
This rise in popularity has resulted in thieves operating for Chinese buyers infiltrating South African nut farms (mainly macadamias) and allegedly stealing NIS macadamias to sell to their clients in China. Walter Giuricich, a farmer who has been affected by this theft, says that as an industry, it affects the South African brand, as the nuts, after they are stolen, are not subjected to the correct curing, sorting and grading regimes. As a result, the product is marketed as South African, and as it will be poor quality, the whole South African brand, not just individual handlers and processors, is labelled as a poor quality product. According to the chairperson of the Southern African Macadamia Growers’ Association (SAMAC), Carl Henning, thieves make contact with employees who then steal the nuts, and collect them after hours. They then export the nuts in containers through regular export channels directly to clients in Asia, and China specifically. SAMAC has received many reports from disappointed Chinese customers regarding bad quality nuts arriving from our country. In some cases 30% to 40% of the kernel is not edible. What is also of concern is the safety of farmers and farm workers and their respective families. The alleged NIS syndicates are difficult to apprehend, as they are transient and often work out of the back of a bakkie. With farmers, and their produce, being a “soft target” for these criminals, there are fears that the theft of macadamias could spill over into violence (Farmer’s Weekly, 12 & 26 September 2014).