Citrus black spot threatens an R8bn industry

2014-05-29 10:33
Screen grab of citrus black spot on oranges. (TouTube)

Screen grab of citrus black spot on oranges. (TouTube)

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Cape Town – South Africa’s citrus industry’s future is in jeopardy according to the Citrus Growers' Association of Southern Africa.

This statement came after the European Commission's committee on plant health authorised stricter import requirements from South Africa’s fruit industries.

According to a report by the SABC, the new restrictions are being put in order to protect the Europe’s crops from citrus black spot.

The disease, according to scientists, reduces the quality of the fruit and drastically reduces the quantity in farming.

The black blemishes make the fruit look undesirable and, as such, a large amount of the fruit goes to waste.

Citrus black spot is not indigenous to Europe and quite harmful, said Frederic Vincent the commission’s spokesperson.

In November last year EU banned all citrus fruit form SA but an extensive scientific study by Brazil, South Africa, Argentina, the US, and Uruguay argued that South Africa’s fruit could not spread the disease to European crops.

The panel said that there had been no history that the disease would spread to European crops because of the European climate.

According to Justin Chadwick, CEO of the Citrus Growers' Association (CGA) the decision by the commission was encouraging as outright bans were not imposed but further measures could be taken.

The new restrictions and requirements are within the CGA’s capacities said Chadwick.

One of the main restrictions would be that specific fruit would be looked at (that are determined high risk) rather than restricting all citrus fruit uniformly.

Chadwick argues that the citrus industry has gone to great and expensive lengths to ensure co-operation, but believes that the decision by the EU will not be economically sustainable for SA.

South Africa has been singled out by the EU but Chadwick said the CGA will comply for now.

Chadwick has called on the Agriculture Minister Senzeni Zokwana to make this issue a priority.

It is estimated that 70% of the EU’s citrus fruit comes from SA.

The CGA also said that the citrus industry brings in R8bn a year and is responsible 12 000 jobs.

According to a BD Live report Spain has been eying South Africa’s citrus market share in Europe and has been lobbying quite fiercely for the EU to cut its imports of citrus fruit from South Africa.

Below is a report by the SABC.

Read more on:    eu  |  cape town  |  plants  |  environment

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