Table of Contents

1. Overview

  • Included in the category “Subtropical fruits” are avocados, bananas, mangoes, litchis, papayas, granadillas, pineapples and guavas.
  • The particular climatic requirements of some types of subtropical fruit make their cultivation only possible in certain specific areas of the country. In general, subtropical fruit types require warmer conditions and are sensitive to large fluctuations in temperature and to frost.
  • The main production areas of subtropical fruit in South Africa are parts of the Limpopo, Mpumalanga and KwaZulu-Natal. Fruit like granadillas and guavas are also grown in the Western Cape, while pineapples are grown in the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal.
  • Subtropical fruit like avocados, mangoes, bananas and litchis are important crops for the country, having both high-growth-potential while being labour intensive quadrant (Sihlobo, 2018).


2. Avocados

  • Avocados are grown in the sub-tropical regions of Limpopo and Mpumalanga Provinces, and in parts of KwaZulu-Natal. The area planted to avocados in South Africa has expanded steadily over the past 30 years, from ±2000 ha in 1970 to ±17 500 ha today.
  • South Africa is ranked fifth largest producer of avocadoes in the southern hemisphere after Peru, Chile, Brazil and Venezuela. (DAFF, 2015).
  • The South African Avocado season extends from mid-March to September/October.
  • Due to climatic variability between growing regions, most of the major cultivars are available over an extended period during the season. For example, ‘Fuerte’ is harvested from mid-March to May in the northern regions, and in July and August in KwaZulu-Natal. The major cultivars are Fuerte and Hass. Owing to the European Market’s preference for ‘Hass’, less Fuerte has been planted than ‘Hass’ in the last eight years. ‘Hass’ accounts for ± 70% of the new plantings in the last eight years. Other cultivars include Edranol, Ryan and Pinkerton, Lamb Hass and Maluma Hass. Find photographs and notes on the different cultivars at (take the “Consumer” option).

South Africa: imports and exports

  • The South African avocado sector is primarily export orientated. The rest go to fresh produce markets (18%), is sold on the informal market (16%), processed (oil and guacamole) (12%) or sold directly to retailers (8%) (ABSA, 2017).
  • In the first quarter of 2018, South Africa exported 4 524 tonnes of avocados, up by 32% from the same period in 2017. The key markets were the Netherlands: 70%; UK: 22%; Spain: 3% ; Others: 7% (ITC, 2018). Avocados are also exported to Europe by Israel, Spain, Kenya, Chile, Peru and Mexico.

Avocado Nurseries

  • Allesbeste Tel: 015 307 3076 / 305 3358
  • Altona Tel: 081 467 2076
  • Henley Nursery Tel: 015 386 0218
  • Rietvlei Tel: 083 630 3236
  • Schagen Tel: Nursery 087 310 2722
  • Westfalia Tel: 015 309 0050
  • Zululand Nurseries Tel: 035 474 2666

Further reading:

  • A starting point for anything you wish to know about avocados is the website This is particularly true if you are a member of the SA Avocado Growers’ Association (SAAGA). Market information, research reports, publications and more reserved for you. For non-members there are notes on the different varieties of avocado, ripening and storage, recipes, news and market information.
  • Under “Resource Centre” on the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) website,, find “Production guidelines avocado” and the Info Pak “Cultivation of avocados”. See also the latest annual Profile of the South African Avocado Market Value Chain on the Directorate Marketing’s web pages on the same website.
  • Publications available for purchase from the ARC-Tropical and Subtropical Crops (ARC-TSC) include (i) "Cultivation of Avocado", (ii) "Avocado Pests/Avokadoplae" (English & Afrikaans combination) and (iii) Identification Manual for Avocado Pests by Dr J.C. Robinson. Call 013 753 7000 or write to infoitsc [at]
  • AFP. 2018, August 15. "Kenyan farmers toast growing European demand for avocados". Eye Witness News. Available at
  • Reuters. 2018, June 21. “Avocados - Green gold for SA farmers”. Business Report. Available at
  • The DAFF-NAMC TradeProbe No 68 (March 2017) gives a “market profile of avocados”. Find the document on


3. Bananas

  • South African banana production occurs in six distinct subtropical regions of the country: (i) Mpumalanga - the Onderberg (Malelane and Komatipoort) and Kiepersol (ii) Limpopo – Levubu and Letaba (ii) KwaZulu-Natal – the North and South Coasts.
  • The Onderberg region is the highest banana producing region with some 35 percent of the total land under banana cultivation, whilst the south coast of KwaZulu-Natal has the greatest concentration of producers. Bananas were grown on a total area of 10 280ha in 2014.
  • South African bananas are primarily sold on the domestic markets. These bananas are of the Cavendish sub-group of dessert bananas. This is especially so where intensive farming happens (e.g. in the Onderberg). Developments in tissue culture technology have been instrumental in a huge lift in production per hectare in the past decade.
  • In 2017, South Africa imported 114 913 tonnes of bananas. 82% of this  came from Mozambique, 9% from Swaziland. South African producers feel under pressure from imports from our neighbours (Sihlobo, 2018).
  • South Africa is a relatively small role player in the banana export market. Almost all exports go to African markets.

Further reading:

  • Sihlobo, W. 2018, March 31. "A Few Notes on South Africa’s Banana Market". Available at
  • Under “Resource Centre” on the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) website,, find “Brochure bananas”. See also the latest annual Profile of the South African Banana Market Value Chain on the Directorate Marketing’s web pages on the same website.
  • Publications available from the ARC-Tropical and Subtropical Crops include: Handbook of Banana Growing in South Africa by Dr J.C. Robinson. His book Bananas and Plantains, published by CAB International, Cambridge University Press, cal also be purchased.  Other publications include (i) Cultivation of Banana and (ii) Banana pests/diseases / Piesangplae/siektes (English & Afrikaans combination). Call 013 753 7000 or write to infoitsc [at]
  • Find the Haifa banana guide at
  • The DAFF-NAMC TradeProbe No 63 (May 2016) looks at South Africa’s banana production and trade. Find the document here.