Over 550 people flocked to the 2022 Australian Almond Conference for three days of networking, presentations and exhibitions in Adelaide recently.
The conference –the first since 2018 due to COVID-19 – was held at the Adelaide Convention Centre in early October and attracted people from all over Australia – and the world.
The world’s leading almond agronomists David Doll and Professor Patrick Brown flew in from overseas to be among the keynote speakers to discuss how to do more with less on farm.
Updates on the various aspects of the industry’s extensive research and development program, including integrated pest and disease management, whole of orchard recycling, water efficiency and growing almonds on heavy soils were among the many issues covered.
The packed 2022 Australian Almond conference attracted 550 delegates.
In his ‘State of the Industry’ address, Australian Almond Board of Australia CEO Tim Jackson said despite the recent challenges of COVID-19, Varroa mite, increased input costs, storms and other challenging weather, almond growers remained in a strong position to feed the world.
He said the ‘plant-based food phenomenon’ is helping drive demand – along with the fact that as a growing proposition, the non-perishable attributes of almonds and returns per megalitre used were attracting more investors to the industry.
“We are working toward zero waste as an industry and are well advanced,” Mr Jackson said. “To think that every piece of almond harvested is used. It changes the whole discussion around water use. With every kernel grown there is also a shell and a hull. Not that long ago they were considered waste.
“Today we are seeing innovative ways to utilise every part of the fruit grown, including energy, fertiliser and even furniture. It is an exciting time to be involved in an industry that is embracing its sustainability responsibilities.
“We aimed to provide delegates with as much information as possible but ensure we kept it as relevant as possible to growers of all sizes.”
Mr Jackson said the market update by the industry’s processors including ofi, Select Harvest, Nut Producers Australia and Almondco, gave growers the latest insight into the challenges currently being addressed around the world.
The half year ABA Position Report unveiled at the conference showed that China has continued to emerge as a key component of the export program, making up more than 40% of all exports.
A packed session signalled a welcome return of the Australian Almond Conference.
Exports overall were back on track with last year’s record levels, but domestic consumption was down.
The Almond Board launched a new purpose-built portal to assist growers benchmark their on-farm practices. Growers will be invited to sign up for the free service.
Mr Jackson said the portal would be an integral tool to help growers, processors and the industry in formalising what is going on at ground level and help meet consumer demands.
He said the support of sponsors, key stakeholders and service providers had ensured the conference broke all records. Attendance was up 40% on the previous best and trade exhibits up 25%.
Doctor Michelle Wirthensohn was awarded a ‘Contribution to Industry Award’ at the Gala Dinner, while John Bird was posthumously inducted as a Hall of Fame member.