The lights of pickup trucks penetrate the darkness of the night in avocado fields on a farm in South Africa, where guards patrol … These fruits, which are described as “green gold” due to their increased demand, have become the target of widespread theft.
“There are a lot of thieves who fill up entire trucks” with avocados, says Marius Jacobs, as he blows smoke from his cigarette, looking at hundreds of tall, stacked avocado trees.
The quantities stolen from the orchards in recent years are estimated at thousands of tons, causing millions of dollars to farmers in South Africa.
The rise in avocado consumption, particularly in the United States and Europe, has pushed up the price of avocados, which are increasingly used in many dishes. The price of one kilogram in these markets may reach 12 dollars.
Theft of these trees abounds when their branches are laden with green fruits, loaded with them and ready for harvest at the end of the southern summer, on the Limpopo farms in the north of the country.
Marius Jacobs’ teams guard about twenty farms, most of which specialize in growing this precious oily fruit.
People caught red-handed during the night are pursued by dogs and turned over to the police. Up to 30 tons can be stolen in one night.