Newsletter Q3 2022
Every quarter we share a newsletter with everyone in the WelMac circle, to keep everyone up to date on the most recent developments within the company and the macadamia industry.
Dear members of the WelMac Circle,
in the last few months we have had both a visit of our C.O.O. mr Herman Claassens to The Netherlands. As we are growing more and more into our sustainability goals and moving further in that direction, we wanted to provide our colleagues from South Africa with some insights into some successfully run dutch projects. We also took advantage of the opportunity to get the whole management team together to have several important discussions and work on our synergy as a team.
Donald, partner and CFO, recently returned from a visit to South Africa as well, where he concluded a review on our (local) financials with our accountants for an approval of our annual figures. The visiting accountants have also written a short impression on their visit to our farm which you can read in this newsletter.
On the farm we have just about finished the flowering season, which looked very promising. The next challenge is to get the pollination and nut set secured, which is the focus of our operational team for the next period of time. We also are seeing some results of one of our experiments, Keagan will share some information on this as well in this newsletter.
I hope you enjoy the read!
Herman's visit to the Netherlands
Originally we had planned for our C.O.O. Herman Claassens, to visit The Netherlands during our previous shareholders-meeting. Unfortunately due to a massive backlog at the visa department of the Dutch embassy in Pretoria, we had to postpone this visit to September. Besides some management meetings, planning and coaching sessions, we also used this visit to inspire and educate ourselves. We travelled to the east of the country and visited several agricultural institutions, a research facility for the apple and pear industry and the oldest most successful food-forest of the Netherlands, where we got a tour from Wouter van Eck, one of the pioneers in this area.
Herman has written a short report of his visit to share his experience.
My visit was during a period where Holland hardly had any rain for a few weeks and one could see the grass turning brown. Something much more uncommon to the Netherlands than South Africa where we are used to having months without a drop of rain.
We spent Tuesday 6 September visiting various projects for inspiration and to get a perspective of agriculture in Holland which I enjoyed a lot. At Proeftuin Randwijk we had interesting discussions because of all the trials they conduct. Like the significant impact changes in irrigation can have on trees and how water quantity is measured with probes. Or how mulching and composting play a key role in soil health. Compost having a faster nutrient release, while mulching has a slower cycle of nutrient availability and it benefits moisture retention and fungus growth in other ways. At Doornik Natuurakkers it was interesting to see how they farm in harmony with nature and how they get a premium for their produce and additional land maintenance services.
In Voedselbos Ketelbroek all the elements - flora and fauna - work together and keep a natural balance. Pests occur but will attract natural predators when there are too many in numbers. Setting up a well functioning food forest requires a well thought design, planning and patience. One also needs to take into consideration the lifespan of the various species and manage the whole ecosystem accordingly. It’s important to have a good variety of plants which will also add to the quality of the natural mulch which will fall on the forest floor. Something we are already try to mimic with mulch and fungi development under the trees. On Wednesday there was a lunch with shareholders Nick Grooss and Wim van der Eijk. One part that I missed the most during Covid was to have visitors from Holland on the farm as it is great to have constructive discussions with shareholders and have them share their knowledge as well as their expectations. The balance of the week was spent on internal team consultation and strengthening cooperation within our team.
My view on Holland in general:
It is a beautiful country with wonderful infrastructure. Just by traveling from the airport to the office one could clearly tell that South Africa’s roots came from Holland, looking at building architecture and layout.
Cities in South Africa and cities in Holland are not precisely the same. Meaning on my side a city is a crazy rat race and in Holland a lot more well paced. Dutch peak traffic looks like normal traffic on my side.
Space is a challenge where we in South Africa are spoiled with the space we have.
In South Africa I can go and buy an ice cream every day, but for some reason Dutch people find it odd to buy one on a rainy day. The people at the ice cream shop were nonetheless glad to see me when it was pouring rain.
In conclusion, it was a great experience that I really appreciated a lot.
Accountants visit to the farm
In september a delegation of our accountants office Vallei, has visited our farm in South Africa. Considering this was their first visit to the farm, we asked them if they could write a short impression of their visit for the WelMac newsletter.
In september we, Barry Bos and Rachid Achahbar, visited Welgevonden Macadamia and Albasini Nursery in South Africa, on behalf of Vallei Accountants Audit. We had an extensive tour of the farm, so we could see with our own eyes how the development of the farm is progressing. It is beautiful to see how the farm is being managed and that so many new trees have been planted in the past years. This expansion of the orchards should lead to a larger crop and further cooperation with the local communities. We were welcomed with the typical South African hospitality and we have seen that the farm is being managed with passion and dedication. It was truly an unforgettable experience.
Travel report from Donald Boers (CFO WelMac)
It was a real pleasure to visit Welgevonden again! Making the journey without any travel restrictions for the first time in many years, made it a very pleasant experience.
The first half of my visit was dedicated to the visit of the accountants and the audit of our enterprise. Together with Barry Bos and Rachid Achahbar i travelled to Welgevonden. It is always nice to see the first reaction of visitors on our farm. Every time they are impressed by the enormous scale of our operation and the care with which our farm is being managed. Despite many videos, pictures and further information on our website, nothing can compete with the experience of visiting the farm and seeing it all with your own eyes. The audit has now successfully been completed and we are awaiting our approved annual report.
After the accountants have left, there followed several days of discussions with a variety of experts in the areas of irrigation, nutrition and crop protection. Many discussions with our employees and inspections of the orchards were also a big part of the visit. The amount of flouring we had this year was especially noticeable, both on the mature trees as the younger ones. This is a first good sign for the crop to come and shows that with our new organic root programme and pruning methods, have a positive effect on our trees. Now we need to focus our efforts on protecting the flowers and hope the pollinators help transform these beautiful flours into nuts!
as a part of our constant venture into a more sustainable way of producing macadamias and regenerating the soils on our farm, we are constantly trying and experimenting. One of our very promising experiments is the incorporation of the so called Johnson-Su Bio reactor into our practises.
Almost everyone has heard about compost, the dark earthy substance that plants and trees absolutely love, created from all kinds of organic matter, that have been broken down to a sort of hummus by all kinds of micro organisms. Composting is what happens on the forest floor, when the leaves fall from the trees and together with the branches, grasses and animal droppings, with the help of all kinds of fungus, mushrooms and micro organisms, gets turned into fertile soil filled with life and beneficial fungi and nutrients. Besides providing everything that grows in that forest with the nutrients it needs, it also maintains and aerates the soil and prevents it from being compacted, making sure that when it rains, water goes into the earth in stead of running off, roots have space to grow and can easily absorb the water and nutrients available.
A traditional way of composting, which we also do on a large scale at Welgevonden, is to mimic this proces on a large pile. We collect cuttings from pruning, bale the grasses that grow all over the farm as well as some of the cover crops, animal manure and other organic matter and we pile it on a big compost heap. To make sure the whole pile gets composted properly it needs to be turned regularly and cooled down, as the temperature especially in the middle, can increase quite a bit and shouldn't get too hot as it will kill the living organisms inside doing all the hard work. The size of the heap is also its main problem, as it makes the growth of all the organisms inefficient and slow.
The Johnson-Su Bioreactors are basically smaller compost piles with air channels going through them. Due to a larger amount of oxygen going through the whole reactor, it helps the organic matter to compost at a higher rate without any turning. Fungi and micro-organisms thrive better than in a conventional compost heap, speeding up the process and increasing the quality of the compost. After several months the product is a beautiful high quality compost that can be used to make 'compost-tea' which is an amazing fertiliser. The compost itself can be used to increase the quality of the larger pile, by mixing it in and added with the worms we breed ourselves as well it will then be spread out through the orchard. Not only does this provide the trees with nutrients, it helps them absorb the water, creates a natural barrier that helps against diseases and harmful fungi and even helps the tree against certain insects that negatively impact production.
Recipe: Coconut Macadamia Waffles
What you need:
500gr of flower
2 large eggs
1 tea spoon of baking powder
1/2 tea spoon of salt
250ml of coconut milk
250ml of sparkling water
60ml of macadamia oil (or vegetable oil)
1 teaspoon of vanilla-extract
125gr of rasped coconut
125gr of roasted and chopped macadamia nuts
How to make it:
- pre-heat the waffle iron. Mix the flour, baking powder and the salt in a large bowl.
- whisk the coconut milk, eggs, oil, vanilla-extract and the sparkling water to a creamy substance
- grease the waffle iron and add the mixture. Bake the waffles for about 4-8 minutes until golden brown.
- Serve the waffle with whipped cream or ice cream, sirup, the extra coconut and the macadamia nuts
Employee interview: Petunia Miriavhana
Every newsletter we interview an employee to give you an idea of who the people are that are doing the work on our farm in South Africa.
Hi Petunia, tell us who you are and what your dreams are…
My Name is Petunia Miriavhana, I am 37 years old and not married. I have 1 amazing beautiful 12 year old daughter. I live in Valdezia and I have been working at Welmac for 4 years now. I dream of buying a beautiful house and I encourage my daughter to further her education and be successful .
What is your job on the farm and what does a typical working day look like for you?
I work in the nursery and do all the different tasks assigned to me. On a working day I wake up at 4.30 a.m., get myself and my daughter ready and travel to work, which starts at 6:45 a.m. Besides working in the nursery I also assist Sylvia in PPE storeroom (Personal Protection Equipment). I end at 5 and return home by 6 p.m.
What do you particularly like and/or dislike about your job?
I like to graft and grow new seedling in the nursery. I like learning new and interesting things. I do not like sweeping.
Is there something on the farm that we can do better?
To grow our farm bigger and bigger to create more work for my community
Thanks you for the interview Petunia!