Planning ahead for a thriving industry

2017-04-21 06:00
Plan-A-Head marketing director, Patrick Lennon.Photo: supplied

Plan-A-Head marketing director, Patrick Lennon.Photo: supplied

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AGRICULTURE services company Plan-A-Head has launched a software programme aimed at the macadamia nut industry, the fastest growing tree crop in South Africa over the past 20 years.

The South Coast is one of the biggest macadamia nut regions in the country.

Sales value of the crop have grown 12 500%, from R32 million in 1996 to more than R4 billion in 2015, while production has increased more than 20-fold, from 1 211 tons of nut in shell (NIS) in 1991 to about 46 000 tons in 2015.

Much of the appeal is driven by exports that account for 95% of the domestic crop, according to Plan-A-Head marketing director Patrick Lennon.

“No less than 50% of the export crop is sold NIS to Asia, and the other half is processed as kernel and sold primarily in the U.S. and Canada,” he said.

Lennon said with an additional 2 000 hectares of new plantings in KZN, Mpumalanga and Limpopo coming into production annually, the domestic industry clearly is on a robust growth path.

“It makes sense for Plan-A-Head to enter the market with a dedicated software program that allows users to manage their orchards with real-time data in a scientific manner,” he said. Plan-A-Head recently sponsored two workshops - one in Stanger and Port Edward - organised by the South African Macadamia Growers Association.

Lennon said the trend towards precision farming is gaining traction in an increasingly challenging environment.

“The least we can do is manage better what we can, and that means introducing a powerful tool that monitors all tasks and activities, from planting to production,” he said.

Moreover, the new macadamia programme can be integrated with the company’s other signature products, Weightrack, Fueltrack, and its payroll and vehicle management program.

The weigh track device allows the user to record attendance, time and attendance, tasks and weight in field and communicates this information continually to the Plan-A-Head management systems via cellphone technology, Lennon said.

“This saves having to collect data from the locking device onto a memory stick and then transferring to the computer manually,” he said.

“At issue is allowing the user to monitor the costs of labour, materials, time and efficiency,” Lennon said.

— Supplied.

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