Macadamia growers look to India

A NEWLY-DEVELOPED heat treatment technique could pave the way for a massive expansion of the market for Australian macadamia nuts in India.

The new treatment involves heating the nuts in the silo to 60 degrees for 24 hours to kill off pests such as macadamia nut borer and storage moths.

Previously producers wanting to enter the Indian market would have been required to fumigate their nuts using chemicals that would have affected the taste.

The Indian market has the potential to grow substantially over the next 10 years, said Australian Macadamia Society CEO Jolyon Burnett.

"Market access negotiations often take years and can be the limiting factor, but this outcome has been achieved more quickly than anyone expected.

"If the Indian middle class consumed as much macadamia nut as the Australian middle class, then it could take our whole national crop.

"This result is great news for the Australian macadamia industry as increased access to the Indian market will help our macadamia industry to continue to grow.

"Currently 10,000 tonnes of macadamia nuts are exported each year with only 80 tonnes per year going to India."

The biggest obstacle remaining for north coast producers is the 100% tariff imposed by the Indian Government, said Darren Burton, marketing manager of Agrimac at Alstonville.

"Now this processing obstacle has been removed it's a matter of time before the tariff comes down," he said.

"Although the current market is very small it has the potential to grow at the same rate as the Chinese market, which has grown 20-30% over recent years."

Federal Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Senator Joe Ludwig, said it was "a great example of the Australian government and industry working together to secure better market access by addressing the legitimate quarantine concerns of the importing country".

"Acceptance of the new export conditions follows a number of representations to the Indian authorities, representation by DAFF's agricultural consul in New Delhi and a face-to-face meeting between Indian and Australian authorities," Sen Ludwig said.

Macadamia nuts are native to Australia and require specific growing conditions, as found on the north coast of NSW and south-east Queensland, to thrive. Australian macadamia nuts are already exported to Europe and Asia.

Mr Burton said there had been previous attempts to plant macadamias in places such as in Brazil and China, but crops there were unlikely to survive.

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