Around 150 school children from Kalkie State School will help to celebrate the Australian macadamia industry's 40th anniversary this Friday 1 August, by planting two macadamia trees in their school garden.
The school kids are participating in the Australian Macadamia Society's 40th Anniversary Schools Project, where they are learning all about the iconic native macadamia nut and the important contribution the macadamia industry makes to the local Bundaberg community.
Local macadamia grower Ray Norris will come along to the school on Friday to help the children plant the trees and explain how to look after them. Ray will also speak about his farm and the macadamia industry.
"The Australian macadamia industry is turning 40, and we are celebrating the global success of our national nut by inviting schools located in our main macadamia growing regions to be part of the celebrations," said AMS Market Development Manager Lynne Ziehlke.
Schools have been invited to participate in a range of macadamia-themed activities - including colouring-in sheets, project packs, a fancy dress fundraising day (raising funds for the Macadamia Conservation Trust) or planting a macadamia tree.
"Australia is the birthplace of macadamias and this year marks four decades of commercial production, dating back to when the Australian Macadamia Society, the industry body was established in 1974."
The first plantation was established in the 1880s, long before 1974, but it wasn't until the introduction of mechanical processing that commercial production of the tough nut became feasible.
"Australia now leads the world in kernel production and accounts for 30% of the world's crop," said Ms. Ziehlke.
From its small beginnings in the Northern Rivers 40 years ago, there are now more than 750 growers (from Mackay, Bundaberg, Gympie and Glass House Mountains in QLD to the Northern Rivers and Nambucca in NSW) contributing to the success of the industry. They produce around 40,000t of nut-in-shell each year, and 70% of this production is exported to 40 countries worldwide. The Bundaberg region is the second-largest macadamia producing region in Australia, producing 25% of Australia's macadamias. Bundaberg is also the fastest growing region for macadamia production and at the current rate of production is set to be the main producing region by 2016.
Since the 1990s, plantings have grown five-fold and the industry is currently worth $200 million annually at the farm gate and $320 million retail. It also employs thousands of people and contributes millions of dollars to regional economies.
Ms. Ziehlke said this growth and success are in no small part the result of Aussie growers who are passionate about innovation, quality and sustainability and constantly invest in research and development to produce high quality nuts that are in demand around the world.