21 years ago, the Dorronsoro family started Del Alba, a company that, in addition to generating almost 90% of the macadamias production in Colombia, is also dedicated to processing all kinds of nuts. Agronegocios spoke with Jaime Dorronsoro, manager of this Valle del Cauca company, which already has 15 independent growers and a business model, in which, through leases, they deliver a crop of macadamias in full production to those interested.
They offer a farm lease. How does it work and what opportunities does it generate?
Macadamia production begins in the fourth year and increases until it reaches a break-even point in year seven or eight. We have managed to pay a commercial lease that is adjusted every year with the CPI and at the end of the 20th year a farm in full production is delivered that will last 15 or 20 more years.
What is the most suitable region to cultivate and where do you grow your crops?
It is the Coffee Axis, and we have crops in Quindío, located between 1,200 and 1,500 meters above sea level. This is what used to be called the 'coffee zone', which is no longer. Now it is a marginal coffee zone. We are trying to captivate it for macadamia cultivation.
How many hectares are planted in Colombia and how much is the production?
The country has about 1,000 hectares. There are only 300 of these in production. We are talking about a production close to 800 tons of walnuts in shell.
Why is it still a small crop in the country?
It is a crop that can grow a lot, but it takes time and a high investment must be made at the beginning. There are no development loans with soft interest. There is only an Incentive for Rural Capitalization (ICR), which is not attractive because the cost of capital is very high.
How much should be invested to start?
About $14 million per hectare. To take it from sowing until it enters production. In year seven, all the investment is made. From then on the plant produces about 40 years or 50 years.
What growth opportunities do you see for macadamia?
I see many possibilities, not only in national consumption, but also in exports, because the world supply is insufficient. In Europe alone, consumption has doubled in 20 years. In addition, macadamia ice cream is the second most sold in Colombia and we prepare the walnut caramelized with which this product is made.
How are the prices in the market?
Macadamia nuts in Colombian supermarkets are much cheaper than in the United States or Europe. That is an advantage, the prices are very attractive for consumers.