SA farmers’ nut export problems: About half of South Africa’s annual macadamia nut harvest (more than 22 000 tons) does not have any buyers. This comes after China has clamped down on importers who smuggled huge amounts of these nuts into their country. South Africa is the world’s largest producer of macadamia nuts, producing about 30% of the total stock. China is the biggest market for SA’s macadamia nuts, but up to now, Chinese buyers have avoided paying import tariffs. According to Derek Donkin, senior executive of the subtropical fruit growers’ association of South Africa, farmers who have worked with these Chinese traders will be forced to pay a 19% import tariff to China (Xolani Mbanjwa, Sake-Rapport, 26 July 2015). In addition, there are large quantities of almonds, walnuts and pecan nuts in transit from the US to Hong Kong, raising concerns that buyers may abandon these shipments at the port for fear of being caught (Mike Cordes, Farmer’s Weekly, 17 April 2015).
In the opinion of Daniel Zedan (chairman of Nature’s Finest Foods in America), the international market for pecan nuts is growing strongly. However, the Chinese market will have to be studied carefully, as they are not consumer driven, but trade driven. If the Chinese traders don’t make a profit, they will stop buying pecan nuts. Currently, Chinese farmers don’t pose any threat, as their cultivation techniques are old fashioned and their yield low. They do, however, invest a lot of money in research (Landbouweekblad, 10 July 2015).
The statement that electricity supply to people excluded before 1994 is the reason for load shedding is not true. Granted, 4,5 million households have been added to the grid, and homes with electricity increased from 44% to 85%. But household use is low, and it added only 5 % in demand while capacity went up by 11% (Prof Christo Viljoen, retired professional engineer and ex-member of the Eskom board and Electricity Control Board – now Nersa).
El Nino – another dry summer ahead? If current temperature developments in the southern Pacific Ocean persist, South Africans living on the Highveld can expect another dry summer at the end of this year, to follow on the already dry summer past. One should, however, be careful not to make a general rule for rainfall and temperature changes in El Nino years over southern Africa. The impact of El Nino is often reduced by the sufficient groundwater and soil moisture content carried over from previous seasons. This will, however, not be the case this year. The warm anomaly over the eastern equatorial Pacific – the typical indicator for an El Nino – has in recent weeks exceeded 1°C, and the sea temperature will probably continue increasing until December (Gauteng Smallholder, June 2015).
Rhino poaching in perspective: The exact number of Namibian black rhinos has always been kept a secret so as to not draw unwanted attention to them. However, this tradition has contributed to on-going poaching activities going unnoticed for much too long. According to the Namibian government, 62 black rhinos have been poached in the Etosha Game Reserve the past six months. However, sources within the park are of the opinion that about 80 have been poached. More than 400 of this critically endangered species were poached since 2005, with 70% of this number having been poached since 2012. Compared to the large numbers of white rhinos poached in South Africa, these numbers may seem insignificant, but they are significant: Namibia’s remaining 1 800 black rhinos represent 40% of the world population of about 4 500. One and a half centuries ago, there were 850 000 black rhinos (John Grobler, Rapport Weekliks, 9 August 2015).