South African truffle grower celebrates success after years of trial and error

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By Euronews  with AFP
Truffle farmer Paul Miros holding a truffle.
Truffle farmer Paul Miros holding a truffle.   -  Copyright  Euronews

After years of trial and error, South Africa's top truffle grower and supplier are now reaping the rewards, selling truffles to high-end restaurants at prices similar to those in Europe.

The Miros family has orchards planted not only in the Cederberg region but also in other pockets of the country with similar climates so they can naturally grow shrubs in the rich sandy South Africa soil.

"Ten or twelve years ago we started this venture (in South Africa), and we felt that we needed to be sure that our land was not the only land growing truffles," Paul Miros said.

"We created a business structure that would plant truffles into other farmers' land and we created a joint venture structure that enabled other farmers to enjoy the same benefits," he added.

The Miros family has 100 hectares planted across South Africa and is the main supplier in Perigord.

"We'd looked at where truffles are grown in the rest of the world, and it's in the northern hemisphere, at about 32 to 35 degrees north, and the same thing needs to be looked at 35 degrees south, which then puts us exactly into the temperate Mediterranean climate of South Africa. Ideal for truffles," said Volker Miros.

The highest quality truffle Miros sell reach 20,000 South African rand, around €1,165 per kilo, almost on par with 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," added Paul Miros, 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."

These farmers hope that after a difficult period, their lifetime of work continues to reap the rewards.

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