SA citrus exporters looking at Maputo as alternative, but that brings challenges of its own

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About 12 years ago, SA citrus growers used to send 60 000 pallets through Maputo.
About 12 years ago, SA citrus growers used to send 60 000 pallets through Maputo.

South African citrus exporters are turning to the port in Maputo, Mozambique, as an alternative after having been impacted first by the unrest in KwaZulu-Natal and then by Transnet ports' IT system being hit by a cyberattack, causing huge backlogs.

There is currently a backlog of fruit across the citrus supply chain causing temporary delays when it comes to fruit being exported to key markets. In order to ease pressure on South African ports, growers are diverting fruit to the Maputo port. 

It is the peak period for citrus exports and about 45% still needs to be shipped, according to Justin Chadwick, CEO of the Citrus Growers' Association of Southern Africa (CGA). 

No citrus from SA has been exported via Maputo for more than ten years. About 12 years ago, SA citrus growers used to send 60 000 pallets through Maputo.

Exporters will now have to choose if they want to use the route. Many have indicated that Maputo is part of their future plans, according to Chadwick. Exporting citrus via Maputo is, however, a more expensive option as port costs are US dollar-denominated. There will also be additional costs such as border-crossing fees.

"Border crossing and customs and phytosanitary clearance have certainly posed a logistical challenges. As for security, there are no more challenges via Maputo than there are with moving fruit through KwaZulu-Natal," said Chadwick.

"With more of Transnet's IT systems coming back online all the time, it is expected that the current disruptions will be short-lived and will have a minimal impact on the current export season. The CGA will continue working closely with Transnet and service providers across the citrus value chain to address any blockages, ease current backlogs and ensure fruit continues to be exported to key markets across the globe." 

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