South Africa's farmers cash in on truffle bet

The most prolific of the orchards yields close to 10 kilogrammes of truffles per hectare each season, which spans South Africa's coldest months from June to August.

05 August 2021 | Business

We looked at where truffles are grown in the rest of the world and it's in the northern hemisphere, about 32 to 35 degrees north. Volker Miros, Farmer: South Africa

SAAWMIET MOOS AND RODGER BOSCH

Only shrubs grew naturally in the sandy acid soil that farmer Volker Miros chose as a site to test the potential for truffle production in South Africa.

The determined mycophile saw no reason why the highly prized fungi could not grow on the plateaus of South Africa's rugged Cederberg mountains in the west of the country, where the climate is similar to that of Mediterranean Europe.

"We looked at where truffles are grown in the rest of the world and it's in the northern hemisphere, about 32 to 35 degrees north," said the white-bearded Miros, wearing a black beanie on a chilly winter day.

"The same thing needs to be looked at 35 degrees south" where the family farm lies around 1 100 metres above sea level, he said.

Miros, 81, who picked mushrooms with his grandfather as a child in Germany, is a pioneer of South Africa's budding truffle cultivation industry.

In 2009, he imported spores of the French Perigord variety touted as the "black diamond" of the culinary world and used them to inoculate the roots of oak seedlings that were then planted in the area.

After six years of trial and error, and tonnes of calcitic lime to counter the soil's acidity, the first truffles were finally unearthed.

Today the family is South Africa's number one Perigord grower and supplier, with almost 100 hectares of truffle orchards planted not only in the Cederberg region but also in other pockets of the country with similar climates.

The most prolific of the orchards yields close to 10 kilogrammes of truffles per hectare each season, which spans South Africa's coldest months from June to August.

Challenges

"We were the crazy farmers on top of the mountain," Miros's son Paul chuckled, squinting in the winter sunlight as he looked over neat rows of inoculated oak trees and shrubs surrounded by snowy peaks.

A dog sat obediently by his side, having recently uncovered a tuber the size of a tennis ball.

The highest quality Miros truffle sells for R20 000, almost at par with the European market rates. Most buyers are local high-end restaurants that have only recently started to incorporate the delicacy into their dishes.

"People in South Africa don't know truffles that well," said Paul Miros, 56, likening their taste to "the smell of a wet forest floor".

"One of our biggest challenges was getting people to buy truffles in their fresh state, because they only last about three weeks out of the ground," he noted. "It needs a proper chef who understands how to cook with it," he added.

A small but growing number of restaurants have worked the pungent tuber into their menus, conquering delighted customers with fresh truffle pastas and buttery potato dishes.

Paul Miros, who relishes experimenting with truffles in the kitchen, swears by a more unusual pairing.

"I like making vanilla ice cream with a little bit of truffle in it," he said. "That creamy texture really carries the truffle flavour excellently."- Nampa/AFP

Similar News

 

Heimstädt steering road safety

18 hours ago | Business

Rivaldo KavangaHorst Heimstädt is the CEO of the Namibia Road Safety Forum, a private organisation which does extensive work in the Southern African Development Community...

FNB to strengthen its support to MSMEs

18 hours ago | Business

PHILLEPUS UUSIKUProparco, a private sector financing arm of Agence Française de Développement Group (AFD Group), granted a EURIZ portfolio guarantee of N$ 68 million to...

Rising like a phoenix

18 hours ago | Business

Mariselle StofbergWilhelmine Mutorwa has used every opportunity she is given to become the best version of herself. For Wilhelmine Mutorwa, giving up has never been...

Digital marketing training underway countrywide

18 hours ago | Business

Michelline Nawatises The Namibia University of Science and Technology (NUST), through the Centre for Enterprise Development (CED) and in collaboration with the Deutsche Gesellschaft für...

COMPANY NEWS IN BRIEF

18 hours ago | Business

ABB lowers sales guidanceABB lowered its full-year sales outlook on Thursday, as the Swiss engineering and technology group became the latest company to flag shortages...

Startup Leo Canopus digitalising communities

1 day - 21 October 2021 | Business

STAFF REPORTERLeo Canopus was among the seven startups selected in early March, for an initiative by the Namibia Business Innovation Institute (NBII) titled the NBII...

Kapana Cook-Off competition winners crowned

1 day - 21 October 2021 | Business

STAFF REPORTERWindhoek resident, Kristy Shomongula, became the seventh winner of the Nedbank Kapana Cook-Off competition. The final which took place at Shanghai Park Lounge on...

COMPANY NEWS IN BRIEF

1 day - 21 October 2021 | Business

Halliburton posts Q3 profitUS oilfield firm Halliburton Co on Tuesday posted its third consecutive quarterly profit and said customer spending in the United States could...

Challenges ahead on ICT highway

2 days ago - 20 October 2021 | Business

Jo-Maré Duddy – Always on the look-out for a solid home for at least 45% of their assets under management, Namibian institutional investors will likely...

Understanding double taxation agreements

2 days ago - 20 October 2021 | Business

Anneri Lück - In my previous articles I gave an overview of some of the important considerations when operating across jurisdictions. One of the...

Latest News

Heimstädt steering road safety

18 hours ago | Business

Rivaldo KavangaHorst Heimstädt is the CEO of the Namibia Road Safety Forum, a private organisation which does extensive work in the Southern African Development Community...

FNB to strengthen its support...

18 hours ago | Business

PHILLEPUS UUSIKUProparco, a private sector financing arm of Agence Française de Développement Group (AFD Group), granted a EURIZ portfolio guarantee of N$ 68 million to...

Learners don maize sacks for...

18 hours ago | Education

TUYEIMO HAIDULA OSHAKATI Learners at Omuthiyagwiipundi Combined School in Omuthiya are forced to wear maize sacks each time they misbehave at...

Itula changed, says suspended Smith-Howard

18 hours ago | Politics

Staff Reporter WINDHOEKSuspended Independent Patriots for Change (IPC) Swakopmund constituency councillor Ciske Smith-Howard says her party leader, Dr Panduleni Itula, has become...

The face of the southern...

18 hours ago | People

Michelline Nawatises Victoria Ndemupa Muhuura was born in Wavis Bay. She attended at Andimba Toivo ya Toivo Secondary School in the Oshana Region, and...

Zozo’s Leather: Your dream product

18 hours ago | People

Rivaldo Kavanga Celesty Cupido worked in the tourism industry and realised over the years that many Namibian accommodation establishments do not showcase or sell...

Rising like a phoenix

18 hours ago | Business

Mariselle StofbergWilhelmine Mutorwa has used every opportunity she is given to become the best version of herself. For Wilhelmine Mutorwa, giving up has never been...

Africa calls for climate finance...

18 hours ago | Economics

ALESSANDRA PRENTICEAfrican countries want a new system to track funding from wealthy nations that are failing to meet a US$100-billion annual target to help the...

EDITORIAL: We are guilty of...

18 hours ago | Opinion

A lot needs to be discussed in our country – from race and sexual rights to abortion. The country can’t stop talking, even when such...

Load More