The RAS Foundation, the charitable arm of the Royal Agricultural Society of NSW (RAS), was created in 2007 with a mission to support the development of sustainable and resilient regional and rural communities in Australia. Together with generous donations from supporters, the Foundation provides community grants and educational scholarships to promote individual and community growth.
To date, the RAS Foundation has supported over 850 rural scholarship students to reach their educational dreams and awarded vital community building funding to 180 organisations.
2024 Nuffield Scholar
Nuts for Australian native, the humble macadamia
As industry development manager for the Australian Macadamia Society, Leoni Kojetin is familiar with industry best practices for sustainability, innovative research and cutting-edge techniques to improve production.
She also applies this knowledge on the ground in her family’s macadamia nursery. As a 2024 scholar, Leoni seeks to examine the effects of a changing climate on macadamias, as well as sustainable practices that can provide solutions for Australian growers. Her scholarship is supported by the RAS Foundation (RASF).
Leoni says Australian macadamias are viewed as a premium product around the world, “thanks to the commitment of Australian macadamia growers to clean, green, sustainable production and world’s best practices".
"Macadamias are also native to Australia, grown in their original home.
To enhance this reputation, she wants to research innovative solutions for tree crops and agriculture more broadly – “so we remain competitive, and the most sought-after origin for macadamias, while continuing to champion our environment”.
Leoni will visit South Africa – the world’s largest producer of macadamias.
She’ll also head to other macadamia producing countries including Kenya and Brazil. She says China is also of interest because of its diverse growing regions, while Italy and Spain, with their long history of cultivation lead the way when it comes to sustainable tree crop production. This research will build on Leoni's day-to-day work with the Australian Macadamia Society, where she leads the industry's national innovation and adoption program, which aims to build capacity and sustainable outcomes within the industry.
Leoni says she has seen both the highs and lows in Australia's macadamia industry, but one constant challenge remains.
"More than 80% of Australian macadamias are exported all over the world, however one of our main challenges lies in the fact we are competing with developing countries that have very low costs compared to us.
"To remain viable, we need new, cost-effective, agronomically sound and sustainable practices."
Ph: 0433 007 925