South African kiwi growers should be looking beyond the export window

“We’re working to create the gold industry. There are a few small quantities scattered throughout South Africa but within five or ten years, we’ll be able to produce massive quantities of quality and will be an active player in the international market” declares Jonathan Trusler, one of the earliest growers of gold kiwis from South Africa, which he grows by growing organically at Magoebaskloof, Limpopo Province.

A group of four farms located in Magoebaskloof shared their gold kiwi production this year (they finished harvesting at the closing of March) and, under the Violea label, they produced 200 tonnes which is double the amount they produced the previous year.

“We enjoy very high premiums from exports to well-established markets that sell gold kiwi, such as Europe, Canada, Asia as well as Asia and the Middle East. The fruit we sold was very popular this year. But, we aren’t seeing enough, which means that we get sold out pretty fast.”

Technical Teams that hail from Italy visits their fields at crucial times throughout the year, to ensure maximum yields and highest quality, says the farmer.

In the future, large amounts of fruit that are certified organic will come out of the Mountain Organic Kiwi (MOK) farm’s 25 hectares of gold as well as red kiwis located in Magoebaskloof.

He explains that all the gold Kiwis (apart of early season kiwis that were flown into Asia) were shipped out of Durban in order to stay clear of the snarl in Cape Town.

South Africa’s export window is likely to be reduced over time.

“The difficult thing is that there is a risk that South Africa we’re chasing a window. The window is good with a lot of potential, but there’s always a risk that it will be filled with kiwis as they are kept for a longer time during the Northern Hemisphere and here growers are picking earlier. It’s true that there’s some window to be had at present, however in the longer term it’s likely to become more and more eroded.”

Jonathan states: “South African kiwis should be competitive due to high-quality, no matter the timeframe”

There is a range of 400 to the 550ha gold Kiwis (not the entire production, however). There is the South African Kiwi Organisation, led by Jonathan has been compiling information about the amount of Kiki production in all its varieties.

Collaboration in research together with University of Pretoria

“We’ve made some great strides within the organisation including the formation of a research collaboration that we have with Forestry and Agricultural Biotechnology Institute (FABI) located at the University of Pretoria. It’s a three-year research collaboration that includes an undergraduate student at the doctoral level who is investigating kiwi pests and diseases.”

The arrangement would not have been possible without an official organisation, says he. The group currently comprises around 50 members who are mostly cultivators of gold kiwis, however it is also open to growers from all types of kiwi.

He adds that they’re concerned about the spread of kiwifruit-related diseases across the globe, such as Brazilian Kiwi Wilt, and PSA ( Pseudomonas syringae actinidiae) that can result in huge-scale harm to Kiwi orchards. “We are in a different climate that are different in South Africa so we don’t have any idea if our orchards of kiwifruit are susceptible to the same extent, however in the past, there was no scientific basis to draw with.”

Production of gold kiwi is high-risk He says, and it will be only in the next four to five years, will they have an knowledge of the most crucial aspects like cold winter temperatures of different gold varieties as well as the yield potential of different regions in South Africa.

That’s what he says to the many people who want to know more about the growing demand for gold Kiwis. “Many industries that are located in South Africa aren’t doing that very well and the farmers are now considering gold Kiwis. We are trying to be extremely prudent: there’s definitely the potential for huge returns, but the risks are still risky. There is no way to know what kinds of varieties are most likely to thrive in different areas.”

For further information:

Jonathan Trussler

South African Kiwi Growers’ Association

Tel: +27 83 880 8787


Source: The Plantations International Agroforestry Group of Companies