press release – 17 October 2007
Leap of Faith is Paying off for Australian Producers
A leap of faith is paying off for a group of farmers across Australia who established jojoba plantations over the past decade.
Jojoba is a drought resistant perennial shrub suited to light soils and semi arid conditions. Native to the arid regions of America the plant is salt tolerant and has now been selectively bred for production in many inland areas across Australia.
Allan Wensing of "Penally" Narrandera in NSW is one of twenty two producers to plant jojoba in Australia.
"Jojoba is a low key and extremely easy crop to grow and you can almost forget about it at times. It uses hardly any water. We used 0.7 of a megalitre this season and it only had two waterings. There are instances in the industry of people not watering for five years and the plants still produce."
"The female plant produces the crop. A fertilised flower on the female shrub forms a protective pod and a bean that looks a lot like a coffee bean forms inside the pod. When the bean is mature the pod splits and the bean falls to the ground. We leave the beans to naturally dry under the skirt of the bush and twice a year we drive sweeper or suction harvesters through the plantations to collect the beans."
"Jojoba in Australia has no serious pests or diseases so we use no pesticides on the plant at all. In the early stages of establishment we may use a small amount of glyphocene or glyphosate to control weed growth but once the jojoba is established it becomes the dominant plant."
"We grow jojoba in rows with 1250 plants per row spaced about 1.5 metres apart. The rows are about five metres apart. The shrubs grow to 3 - 4 metres and can live for 200-300 years. The crop reaches full production in the eleventh year so you need to take a long term view."
"Jojoba plantations require no cultivation so in the current conditions it is pleasing not to be burning fossil fuels in the maintenance of the plants."
"I came out of cotton growing and spent a year and a half looking around for what to do in an effort to make money. That was around the start of what would become this dreadful drought. We took a gamble and it looks like it is paying off. My plants are now in their sixth year and I am already seeing a return on investment."
"Jojoba is a remarkably interesting crop to grow and we are learning so much more each year."
"In full production which is not until year eleven you get two tonnes of seed per hectare which yields about one tonne of liquid golden jojoba wax. One tonne of the golden wax is worth about $20,000 so the return per megalitre of water is $4,000 - $6,000. Growing jojoba is hard to compare with anything else."
"Last year the plantations reached a yield increase phase and now production across the industry is likely to increase by about 30% each year to 2015 from existing plantings. To set the industry on a secure path where that increasing production could be be effectively marketed the grower owned marketing company Jojoba Australia appointed a professional marketing manager last September. Now one year later we have a national brand Jojocare and a small pack range, a bulk pack range and a solid marketing platform. All packs are sold as packaged branded Australian product with labelling and marketing information in English and five other languages. Sales are climbing well here and overseas. Producers are now quite excited at the ability of our jojoba to provide us with some buffer against the drier conditions we are now experiencing."
Commercial jojoba plantations have been established on NSW properties at Tamworth, Narrabri, Bourke, Canowindra, Forbes, Condobolin, Hillston, Yenda and Kywong, in Queensland at Goondiwindi, in Victoria at Kerang, in South Australia at Parachilna and Swan Reach, and in WA at Kelannie, Wagin, York and Geraldton.
Jojoba became prominent during the 1970's when researchers found that the golden liquid wax from the jojoba bean had similar molecular structure to the wax esters in human skin. This made it a superior base carrier for cosmetics, skin care products, hair care products, aromatherapy blends and anti-aging treatments. It is also the premium lubricant for all types of massage. The CSIRO saw this research emerging and brought jojoba plants into Australia in 1978. In conjunction with NSW Agriculture they developed the four varieties over twelve years that are now in commercial production.
Beans are gently cold pressed at Cootamundra in NSW to release the liquid golden jojoba wax. Half of the mass of the jojoba bean is the golden wax. The remaining dry jojoba meal left after the pressing is marketed to the beauty industry in two grades as a body scrub and a facial scrub. Jojoba meal is also becoming very popular with manufacturers as a scrub ingredient in herbal soaps.
Allan Wensing said he would like to see more people grow jojoba.
"If there is more production we are going to have a more robust industry with more funds available for research and development and greater economies of scale. For now though we just need to get the word out about the benefits of jojoba and the fact that the Australian jojoba industry has arrived."
Photographs of Alan Wensing can be downloaded from the Photo Gallery page.
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