9th International Macadamia Symposium 2023


Programme Overview

With a line-up of top-notch speakers and an exciting program, this year’s event promises to be one of the most informative and engaging yet. The International Macadamia Symposium (IMS) 2023 is an event that brings together producers, processors, exporters and importers, traders, nurseries, distributors, service providers, experts, researchers, and industry leaders from all over the world to share their knowledge, experiences, and innovations in the macadamia nut industry.

Topics include Mapping the South African and Australian industries, tree age modelling and yield predictions and where it’s going to take us, efficient and sustainable water use farming for the future, viruses, managing husk rot and flower diseases, Phyophthora and Phytopythiums in the macadamia industry.

We are thrilled to be able to meet again in person and we hope that you will be able to join us at this prestigious event.



It is a great honour for the IMS’23 committee to welcome Jo-Ann Strauss as the official Master of Ceremonies at the 9th International Macadamia Symposium (IMS) 2023.

Jo-Ann achieved her bachelor’s degree at Stellenbosch University. Throughout her reign as Miss South Africa, she embarked on her media journey through the Afrikaans TV magazine program Pasella, preceding her role as the anchor of the English lifestyle magazine show Top Billing (TV show). Notably, she conducted interviews with prominent figures like Charlize Theron, Antonio Banderas, and George Clooney. She also graced the covers of numerous South African magazines.

In 2010, Jo-Ann took the spotlight by co-hosting the opening ceremony for the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa, alongside Thomas Gottschalk, in a live broadcast from Johannesburg for the German television network ZDF. An International Master of Ceremonies, Speaker, and Entrepreneur, her career has spanned remarkable diversities.

Jo-Ann Strauss boasts an extraordinary and successful career trajectory. She has presided over events for top-tier companies across five continents and even for esteemed royal families. Her global efforts encompass fundraising for UNICEF and various charitable organizations. Her presence was instrumental in overseeing VIP events for BMW International at the Ryder Cup in Paris, with a repeat engagement scheduled for Rome in 2023. Jo-Ann Strauss orchestrated the Conde Nast International Luxury Conference alongside Vogue’s Suzy Menkes, and she skilfully hosted the Gucci Zeitz Gala. Leveraging her platforms and networks, she champions the cause of female African artists, a commitment that will manifest at the upcoming Art Basel fair later this year. We are looking forward to an unforgettable IMS’23.


Craig Shephard

Senior Researcher
Applied Agricultural Remote Sensing Centre (AARSC)
University of New England, Brisbane, Australia

Craig has over 25 years professional experience in the mapping of landscape attributes – particularly land cover and land use.
He holds a Bachelor of Science majoring in Environmental Science and Geography from Macquarie University, and is particularly focused on the application of web-based Geographic Information System (GIS) technology. 
Craig specialised in the Esri platform and applies a range of location-based tools to capture spatial data, analyse and compile mapping products and deliver spatial information via an ever-growing range of web applications. A selection of these can be launched from the AARSC Industry Applications and Maps page www.une.edu.au/webapps

Mapping the South African and Australian Industries
13:30 – 13:50

Charles Muigai

Nut Processors Association of Kenya, Kenya

Charles is an expert in private sector and trade development, consulting, training, and market research. He has extensive experience in development, export support, and business advisory. He possesses a broad network of key information and partnership connections as a trade development facilitator, assisting clients in business development and trade facilitation. Charles is Head of Secretariat for the Nut Processors Association of Kenya, an industry platform for Macadamia, processors in the country. Additionally, he serves on the board member of World Macadamia Organization and International Macadamia Symposium Committee. Charles has worked for several local and international organizations for the last 20 years such as Technoserve, FAO, UNIDO, USAID, USDA, GIZ, INC Ecorys Netherlands, Carnegie Netherlands, GROWFIN and Africa Cashew Alliance.

Global Industry in Numbers 
11:00 – 11:15

Dorran Bungay

Agricultural Engineering Consultant, South Africa

Dorran Bungay qualified as an electrical technologist and served in the agricultural division (Agrelek) of South Africa’s national electrical utility (Eskom) as an energy consultant / process designer from 1989 until 2004. Dorran designed his first macadamia curing system in 1989 whilst in Eskom and quickly realised that macadamias are very susceptible to spoilage and early loss of shelf-life especially due to poor handling and preservation techniques.

Dorran’s main focus in his macadamia portfolio was to establish the root causes of the spoilage both on farm and at the processor with the intent of establishing improved handling methods and the design of efficient processing systems capable of preserving harvest quality from farm to the consumer. Dorran established himself as a private agricultural engineering consultant after retiring from Eskom in 2004. The international macadamia industry has, since then, grown exponentially and Dorran has been at the forefront of designing safe and energy efficient curing and preservation systems for the substantial volume increase both on farm and at processors that has become the feature of the modern global macadamia industry.

His handling techniques and system preservation designs for macadamia processing and storage are widely used both locally in South Africa, Mozambique, Rwanda, Kenya, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Zambia, China, Australia, Brazil and Guatemala.

Preserving quality from the orchard to the factory
09:20 – 09:40

Dr. Hannelie Human

Extra ordinary lecturer
University of Pretoria, South Africa

Dr Hannelie Human is an extra ordinary lecturer in the Department of Zoology and Entomology in the Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences at the University of Pretoria. With her research, she aims to increase our understanding of factors that may contribute to the loss of honeybee colonies in South Africa. More specifically, she investigates the effect of pesticides, nutrition, pathogens and parasites which, when interlinked, adversely affect both honeybee health. More recently, research aimed at crop specific plant-pollinator interactions.

Her work for United Exports (blueberries) and SAMAC (South African macadamia industry) contributes to our knowledge in the field of crop pollination, pollinator identification and pollination efficiency, the quality of floral rewards (nectar and pollen) and quality control of colonies in pollination.

She has co-supervised one PhD, two master’s and six honours students. Her publications include 31 peer-reviewed articles, 26 popular articles and 4 book chapters. At the local level she is involved with various key role players and stakeholders in the beekeeping industry in South Africa, including the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, the Agricultural Research Council, the South African Bee Industry Organisation and beekeepers.

She is a member of international honeybee research networks that focus on the monitoring and prevention of colony losses and the global conservation and management of pollinator ecosystem services. Dr Human received a C2 rating from the NRF.

Polonation standards and best practices
09:40 – 10:00

Dr. Rosali Moffat

Post doctoral fellow
FABI – University of Pretoria, South Africa

I am passionate about insects, plants and conserving the environment. I completed my masters and PhD at the Centre for Biological Control, Rhodes University. I worked on the biological control of an invasive aquatic weed in South Africa. Thereafter, I was a post-doctoral fellow at the Centre for Biological Control, focusing on the implementation of water hyacinth biological control in the Gauteng and North West provinces. Environmental issues involve parties from all spheres, so one of my aims was to strengthen the socio-ecological resilience of invaded water bodies. 

Having a good understanding of our natural world and implementing those principles will result into safer more sustainable pest management practices. 

Currently I am a postdoctoral fellow at FABI working on the biological control of macadamia felted coccid, an invasive pest on macadamia trees in South Africa. 

Biological control of the macadamia felted coccid in South Africa
15:00 – 15:20

Prof. Shahla Hosseini Bai

Associate Professor in Agroecology
University of New England, Brisbane, Australia

Shahla Hosseini Bai is an Associate Professor in agroecology and is the carbon theme leader at Griffith University. Her research is centred on food security and she is passionate to apply innovative technologies for sustainable food production. Associate Professor Bai brings over 16 years’ experience in working with key industry partners across the broad agricultural sector including nut tree crops in Australia and Pacific. She has published over 120 peer reviewed journal articles and she currently leads large transdisciplinary research portfolio to develop hyperspectral imaging technology for macadamia industry and develop biochar-based fertilisers for various cropping systems.

INternational discolouration and hyper-spectral imagery
09:00 – 09:20

Prof. Stephen Trueman

Professor of Plant Science
Griffith University, Brisbane, Australia

Professor Stephen Trueman has over 30 years’ experience in pollination biology and plant propagation. He completed his PhD on macadamia pollination in 1993 and later worked on ethephon sprays and mechanical shakers for accelerating the macadamia harvest. Stephen currently leads $US5 million of research projects on pollination and crop nutrition of macadamia, almond, avocado, lychee and mango trees. He uses DNA techniques to identify the pollen parent of fruit and nuts in orchards and to identify the varieties of pollen that are carried by bees.

Cross-pollination: the benefits and how to maximise it
09:00 – 09:20

Prof. Zander Myburg

Chair in Forest Genomics and Biotechnology
Department of Biochemistry, Genetics and Microbiology
Forestry and Agricultural Biotechnology Institute (FABI)
University of Pretoria, South Africa

Zander Myburg is the Director of the Forest Molecular Genetics (FMG) Programme in the Forestry and Agricultural Biotechnology Institute (FABI) at the University of Pretoria. His research team has pioneered the use of population genomics and systems genetics approaches to unravel the genetic control of growth and wood formation in Eucalyptus trees. He was the lead investigator of the US Department of Energy – Joint Genome Institute (DOE-JGI) Eucalyptus Genome Project which generated the reference sequence for the genus (Myburg et al. 2014, Nature). Presently, he is leading a new DOE-JGI project (2022-2026) for large-scale sequencing of ~3700 eucalypt genomes.

Macadamia genomics and breeding in South Africa
14:00 – 14:20

Jeremy Bright

Development Officer – Macadamia
Horticulture Unit
NSW Department of Primary Industries | Plant Systems
Bruxner Australia

Jeremy has 31 years’ experience in a variety of horticultural industries across Australia under a range of climates and challenges. He has broad experience with subtropical/tropical fruit tree crop industries (macadamia, blueberry, bananas, mangoes, papaya, citrus and cashew), temperate fruit tree crops (pome and stone fruit, and viticulture) and vegetables (asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower, capsicum, rockmelon and watermelon). 

His expertise covers a broad range of horticultural issues from production to marketing. He has been involved in developing and conducting both extension projects and research trials, giving him good insight into the interface between research results and application on-farm and an understanding of effective extension methodologies to support adoption of new technologies. 

His recent work with the macadamia industry includes author of the popular “Integrated Orchard Management Practice Guide 2016”, “Integrated Orchard Management Case Study 2016” and the third in the IOM series “Integrated Orchard Management Drainage Toolkits 2017” recently updated to “Integrated Orchard Management Drainage Toolkits 2022”. Jeremy is also the author of the popular “Macadamia Plant Protection” Guide. He is currently busy working on developing the “Macadamia Grower Guide” which is an update of the 2004 “Macadamia Grower Handbook”

Integrated Orchard Management and the Clean Coastal Catchment project
14:40 – 15:00 

Jillian Laing

The World Macadamia Organisation

Jillian Laing is the inaugural CEO of the World Macadamia Organisation, an organisation set up in 2021 to champion the potential of macadamias as a mindful wholefood.   Jillian is an international food marketer with experience in dairy, snack food and food equipment sectors across consumer, food service and ingredients.   She’s a New Zealander and has lived in South East Asia, China and Europe for extended periods, and worked in all continents.  Jillian is passionate about health orientated foods, understanding the interplay of food and different cultures, and loves that World Macadamia Organisation is promoting products that are directly linked to farmers and the land. 

The World Macadamia Organisatoin
10:40 – 11:00

Dr Gerda Fourie

Department of Biochemistry, Genetics and Microbiology
Forestry and Agricultural Biotechnology Institute (FABI)
University of Pretoria, South Africa

Gerda Fourie is the primary Investigator of the Macadamia Protection Programme. Through a multidisciplinary approach, the research programme’s goal is to conduct solution-orientated research that will translate to practical pest and disease management options for macadamia growers. Current research focus areas include a number of economically important pests such as the two-spotted stink bug (B. distincta), Macadamia nut borer (Thuamatotibia batrachopa), Macadamia felted coccid (Acanthococcus ironsidei) as well as ambrosia beetles and their fungal symbionts. In terms of diseases, on-going research currently focus on nut as well as flower diseases.

She has supervised and/or co-supervised two PhD, nine MSc and nine honours students. Her publications include 35 peer-reviewed articles and 14 popular articles and she received a C2 rating from the NRF.

Managing husk rot in macadamia orchards
11:20 – 11:40

Clare Hamilton-Bate

Chief Executive Officer
Australian Macadamia Society

Clare Hamilton-Bate is the CEO of the Australian Macadamia Society (AMS), the representative body for the macadamia industry in Australia. 

Clare joined the AMS in August 2022, with a strong background in all aspects of the international fresh produce supply chain, from farm to retail shelf.

With a background in postharvest horticulture, Clare led Freshcare, Australia’s industry owned on farm certification standard for 18 years, delivering practical quality, food safety and environmental standards to growers and supply chain partners.  Clare is a passionate industry advocate, committed to supporting every element of businesses sustainability, and to delivering quality product to world markets and consumers.

The Global Industry in numbers
10:45 – 11:00

Prof. Adele Mcleod

Associate professor
Stellenbosch University

I received my degrees, specializing in plant pathology, from the University of Pretoria (BSc Agric), Stellenbosch University (MSc Agric) and Cornell University in the USA (PhD). Prior to being appointed first as senior lecture and later as associate professor at Stellenbosch University, I worked for 5-years at the Agricultural Research Council, Vegetable and Ornamental Institute in Pretoria and Elsenburgh in the Western Cape. My research is mainly focused on soilborne diseases of tree fruit crops.

Phytophthora and Phytopythiums in the macadamia industry
12:00 – 12:20

Dr. David Read

Research fellow
Department of Biochemistry, Genetics and Microbiology
Forestry and Agricultural Biotechnology Institute (FABI)
University of Pretoria, South Africa

Dr David Read is a research fellow and leader of the Plant Virology Group at FABI, University of Pretoria. He is the principal investigator on several projects involving virus discovery and characterisation on several crops of growing importance in South Africa, including macadamia, olives, hops, wheat and oilseeds. David has described more than 10 novel viruses of agricultural importance and published more than 30 peer reviewed journal articles and recently received a Y2 rating from the National Research Foundation of South Africa.

The viruses of macadamias
15:00 – 15:20

Wandile Sihlobo

Chief Economist
the Agricultural Business Chamber of South Africa (Agbiz)
South Africa

Wandile Sihlobo is the Chief Economist of the Agricultural Business Chamber of South Africa (Agbiz) and the author of two books, “A Country of Two Agricultures: The Disparities, the Challenges, the Solutions (2023)” and “Finding Common Ground: Land, Equity, and Agriculture (2020)”. He is a Senior Lecturer Extraordinary at the Department of Agricultural Economics at Stellenbosch University and a Visiting Research Fellow at the Wits School of Governance, University of the Witwatersrand.

Sihlobo was appointed as a member of President Cyril Ramaphosa’s Presidential Economic Advisory Council in 2019 (and re-appointed in 2022), having served on the Presidential Expert Advisory Panel on Land Reform and Agriculture from 2018. He is also a member of the Council of Statistics of South Africa (Stats SA) and a Commissioner at the International Trade Administration Commission of South Africa (ITAC).

Sihlobo is a columnist for Business Day, The Herald and Farmers Weekly magazine.
He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Agricultural Economics from the University of Fort Hare and a Master of Science degree in Agricultural Economics from Stellenbosch University.

Alex Whyte

Sales Manager
Green & Gold Macadamias
South Africa

My family have been macadamia farmers since the late 1970s and were founders of Green Farms Nut Company which was South Africa’s first privately owned macadamia processor and exporter. After completing a BCom Economics degree at Stellenbosch I worked in the U.K. for 11 years in a number of companies in the Agribusiness and food importing space, after which, I joined Green & Gold Macadamias at its inception in 2010- where I work to this day. I am primarily responsible for sales to Europe, Middle-East and Africa. I also completed a MBA in Agribusiness at the Roya l Agricultural university in the U.K. All of this has given me an overview and passion for the macadamia nut industry across the supply chain from the farm to the fork.

Theunis Smit

General Manager and Head Carbon Project Developer
Carbon Friendly
South Africa

Theunis Smit, an accomplished horticultural scientist and environmental advocate, currently serves as the General Manager and Head Carbon Project Developer at Carbon Friendly. With advanced degrees in Plant and Soil Science, Agronomy, and a PhD in Horticulture focusing on Sustainable Water use and Environmental Modelling. Theunis has dedicated a decade to regenerative orchard practices emphasizing soil health and ecosystem restoration. At Carbon Friendly, he directs a team of agricultural greenhouse gas specialists assessing the climate impact of farming practices, while concurrently managing multiple carbon projects within the agricultural sector. Smit’s work embodies his commitment to the environment and his belief in the transformative power of sustainable farming for climate change mitigation and ecosystem preservation.

Nicky Taylor

Senior Lecturer
Department of Plant and Soil Sciences at the University of Pretoria

South Africa

I am a senior lecturer in the Department of Plant and Soil Sciences at the University of Pretoria. My research focusses on fruit tree water use and plant water relations. My research group quantifies water use of fruit tree orchards and then tries to model the water use to allow our results to be extrapolated to a wide range of orchards across South Africa over a number of years. We also quantify plant water relations in order to determine the main drivers for water use in each crop to allow us to select the best modelling approach. We then try to use the models to refine irrigation planning and scheduling for orchards, with a focus on scheduling during periods with reduced water allocations to avoid impacts on yield and quality and to improve crop water productivity. We are now trying to test various remote sensing tools to assess the spatial management of irrigation in orchards, in order to optimize irrigation strategies over large areas.

Prof. Andrew Robson

Director of the Applied Agriculture Remote Sensing Centre (AARSC)
University of New England

Professor Andrew Robson has close to 30 years’ experience in developing remote sensing/ GIS applications across many agricultural and horticultural industries. Prof. Robson has initiated and led national multi-industry, multi-collaborator projects evaluating satellite, airborne and proximal platforms for yield and quality forecasting and the improved detection of abiotic and biotic constraints (pest, disease, water, nutrition etc.). Of relevance to macadamia, Prof. Robson and his team from the Applied Agricultural Remote Sensing Centre (AARSC) have developed remote sensing based yield forecasting, mapped the location and planting date of commercial orchards across Australia and South Africa and investigated spatial and temporal relationships to quality and pollination. AARSC were recently awarded the ‘Industry Innovation Award 2021’ by the Australian Macadamia Society and named as the ‘leading Earth Observation research team’ at the 2022 inaugural Australian Earth Observation awards. In 2023, Prof. Robson presented the ‘AgTech/ Remote sensing’ key note addresses at the International Avocado forum (Auckland NZ) and International Banana Conference (Miami US) and is pleased to present at the International Macadamia Conference.

Chen Yuxiu

Founder and Chairwoman

Chen Yuxiu, female, born in 1965, is the founder and chairwoman of YMAC. At present, she is the vice chairwoman and secretary-general of the IMSC(International Macadamia Scientific Research & Development Committee), the vice chairwoman of CNSA (The Specialized Committee for Nuts and Dried Fruits of China National Food Industry Association) , the chairwoman of Yunnan Macadamia Society, and the graduate tutor of China Agricultural University.

Chen Yuxiu has been sticking to the macadamia dream for 30 years like a day. Persisting and doing best for all. She has always emphasized that the greatest thing is to repeat the right thing and do it right. It is precisely because of this determination that she has become a leading figure in China’s macadamia industry.

Angelita L. Acebes-Doria

Research Biologist/Entomologist
United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, DKI US Pacific Basin Agricultural Research Center
Hilo, Hawaii

Angel’s research centers on insect ecology and integrated pest management research in perennial tree cropping systems, with priorities on the development of effective, ecologically based, and environmentally sound management strategies against arthropod pests of macadamia including the tropical nut borer, Cryptophlebia moths and macadamia felted coccid. Prior to working with USDA, Angel was a Univ. of Georgia assistant professor serving as a teaching faculty, a researcher, and an extension entomology specialist on IPM strategies for pecan pests in the southeastern US.  As a post doc and PhD student, Angel was involved with several IPM-centered projects involving the invasive brown marmorated stink bug in the eastern US resulting in numerous scientific and extension publications. Angel initiated and led the ambrosia beetle working group, a multi-institutional and multi-disciplinary group primarily focused on addressing the ambrosia beetle issues in ornamental and orchard production systems in the eastern and southern US, resulting in a $7.5M USDA NIFA funded project. Angel co-established and currently manages the Hawaii MyIPM App providing a handy mobile-based IPM resource for growers and stakeholders in Hawaii. Angel co-authored grants totaling ~$14M in which ~$950,000 was allotted to funding her tree nut IPM research programs.

Heinrich Grobler

head of Projects and Optimization
Mayo Macs

South Africa.

Heinrich Grobler is the current head of Projects and Optimization at Mayo Macs South Africa.

As a newly graduated food scientist, Heinrich started his working career in the commercial food flavoring sector, but his love of science was overshadowed by the daily routine and predictability of working in a laboratory environment.

His people-centric focus and need for diversity felt better matched in training, food-safety systems development and compliance auditing, which he did for 8 years, working nationally and internationally.

An illustrious 12-year career in the Fishing Industry followed, where he fulfilled various roles across all spectra in the industry, culminating in the role of COO of one of South Africa’s biggest fishing companies. His track record attests to his practical, and intimate understanding of the complexities involved in producing safe food of consistent quality in highly perishable, fast-moving consumer goods environments.

Seeking new opportunities for growth and learning saw Heinrich joining the Macadamia Industry, where he has been privileged to apply his knowledge and experience in various roles over the past 15 years.
Heinrich also graduated in Marketing from University of South Africa and earned an MBA (cum laude) from the University of Port Elizabeth.

Dr Fahimeh Jami

Agricultural Research Council
Plant Health and Protection
Pretoria, South Africa

Dr Fahimeh Jami is a senior researcher at the Agricultural Research Council (ARC) with over 20 years’ experience in the field of plant pathology specifically fungal diseases that impact both native and non-native trees in agricultural and forestry. With an extensive background as a plant pathologist, Dr Jami has emerged as a leading authority in her field, utilizing her expertise to delve into the intricate relationships between fungi and their host plants. Her pioneering research efforts have focused primarily on fungal diseases causing dieback, an issue of critical importance in maintaining the health and productivity of various tree species.

Andrew Sheard

Technical Manager
Mayo Macs Technical Services
South Africa

Andrew obtained his M Sc (Agric) through the University of Stellenbosch and has 25 years experience working across a wide range of fruit crops including deciduous (cherries, apples, peaches, kiwifruit) and Subtropical crops across KZN and Southern African. He has worked as both a researcher and technical advisor for government, Subtrop and Mayo Macs where he gained a wealth of experience in the above crops but especially cherries, avocadoes and macadamias. His current position as Technical manager for Mayo Macs involves leading a dynamic technical team as well as advising growers on all aspects of macadamia production and conducting some select research products. He has also been involved in publishing 2 versions of the Macadamia Insect, Disease & Nutrient Guide and an App version of the guide which also includes cultivars He has served on the SAMAC research committee for a number of years.