THE local macadamia industry may be experiencing a stellar period of growth, however producers have been urged to keep pace with technology innovations.

Macadamias are now the most valuable agricultural enterprise in the NSW Northern Rivers, recently overtaking cattle production. It is also in the top five of Australia’s biggest horticultural exports.

For the past seven years the industry has experienced year-on-year growth, resulting in national production increasing by 70 per cent, while the value of the product has trebled during the same period.

These numbers have given local producers plenty of confidence, however Lismore-based Australian Macadamia Society chief executive officer, Jolyon Burnett, pictured, said the need for growers to stay current was one of the reasons many will be attending the upcoming Norco Primex primary industries expo at Casino (May 16-18).

“This is an important event for a grower to turn up to and inspect the range of products and services that are available for use on farms,” he said.

“We have 500-plus growers in this Northern Rivers region and we encourage them to go to Primex.”

Burnett said he had no doubt the significance of the macadamia industry to the local and Australian economy was not widely known.

“Seventy per cent of our crop is exported,” he said.

“Annually macadamia production in Australia is now about 50,000 tons, which is a quarter of the global crop and worth about $300million at the farm gate.

“These figures do fly under the radar to some extent nationally. When we go down to Canberra the extent of the horticultural export generally is not well understood.

“If you ask Northern Rivers people, very few would know that macadamias are the most valuable agricultural product here.”

Norco Primex director Bruce Wright said his field day event continued to grow in relevance to all primary producers.

“We now have direct links with almost 30 grower groups, including the Australian Macadamia Society,” he said.

“The closer our relationship with these peak bodies the more we are able to make Primex relevant to their members. The macadamia growers have been long-time supporters of Primex and I am looking forward to seeing some familiar faces from May 16-18.”

Burnett said there was plenty of room for growth for the macadamia industry from an export perspective.

“We can’t meet global demand at the moment,” he said.

However that growth has practical limitations.

“Nurseries producing macadamia trees are telling customers there is a three-year wait – you can’t plant for three years,” he said.

“So drumming up prospective new growers just creates disappointment.”