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RSA citrus industry limits exports to EU

RSA citrus industry limits exports to EU


South Africa has decided to cease exports of specific types of citrus from certain regions in the country to the European Union early this season. The South African government has been asked not to inspect any more shipments of fruit from these regions after 12 September. An industry announcement stated: “At times in the past, the South African citrus industry has voluntarily suspended certain exports to limit potential interceptions of citrus black spot (CBS) symptomatic fruit at the tail end of the season and to protect the long term sustainability of the EU market. Experience has shown that the prevalence of CBS interceptions increases in this period, particularly on late Valencia oranges.”

According to the statement South Africa received 12 notifications of false codling moth (FCM) interceptions from the EU and has implemented stricter measures to mitigate the risk of additional FCM interceptions.

“Although there is only one CBS interception in the EU so far this season, there is a need to also mitigate the total number of interceptions,” the statement read.

The decision was taken by the Citrus Growers’ Association’s (CGA) disaster management committee. In a notice to citrus growers, the committee said the move is a proactive and diligent intervention to demonstrate the industry’s responsible and sustainable risk mitigation.

According to the statement the intervention will be enacted through automatic withdrawal of EU registration of affected orchards on the industry’s PhytClean system, which plays a key role in orchard inspections for fruit exported to the EU.

This will mean that the certification body, PPECB, will not inspect any citrus fruit of the affected types and production regions for shipment to Europe after midnight on 12 September.  

The statement stressed the CBS free areas of the Western and Northern Cape are exempt from the ruling, as well as the low risk Gamtoos and Katriver production regions in the Eastern Cape. Mandarins and other soft citrus are also exempted as a low risk citrus type.


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South Africa’s 2015/16 citrus outlook

South Africa’s citrus production will remain flat at 2.63 million tons in 2015/16 MY, predicts the latest USDA GAIN South Africa Citrus Supply and Demand report.

South Africa’s citrus production will remain flat at 2.63 million tons in 2015/16 MY, predicts the latest USDA GAIN South Africa Citrus Supply and Demand report.

Increased planted area is behind an expected increase in production of grapefruit, lemons and soft citrus, growth offset in the overall citrus figures by a smaller orange crop due to a decrease in area planted and the impact of hail damage in Hoedspruit, Limpopo, the report says.

Citrus Black Spot

South Africa still faces challenges in the EU due to that market’s stringent Citrus Black Spot (CBS) requirements. Also causing concern has been drought due to the El Nino in the Kwa-Zulu Natal, Limpopo and Northern Cape, though its impact on citrus production was estimated as minimal (at time of the report) due to the availability of irrigation water. Concerns remained, however, that it would result in smaller fruit sizes.

2015/16 marketing year forecasts for South African citrus from USDA post

Production to increase marginally by 1% to 405,000 tons in the 2015/16 MY, based on the increase in area planted. Star Ruby is the most planted grapefruit variety due to its high global demand.
Exports will also increase marginally by 1% to 224,000 tons based on the increase in production and the weak rand exchange rate.

Production to decrease marginally by 1% to 1.69 billion tons based on the impact of hail which affected the Hoedspruit, Limpopo producing region. Producers prefer Valencia oranges over Navels as Valencias have a longer shelf life and produce more yields than Navels.    
Orange exports of oranges to decline 4% to 1.15 billion tons based on the lower production and uncertainty over exports to the EU due to ongoing CBS challenges.

Mandarins/tangerines (includes clementines & satsumas)
Production to rise 3% to 205,000 tons thanks to increased planted area. Nardocott is one of the most popular soft citrus cultivars in South Africa. Industry statistics indicate that some growers have started planting the Tango cultivar, which is seedless and is still waiting to be granted its Plant Breeders Rights.
Exports of tangerines/mandarins to rise 3% to 162,000 tons, based on increased production, growing market opportunities in the Middle East and Asia, and weakening of the rand exchange rate.

Lemons & limes
Production to stay flat at 331,000 tons based on area planted and normal weather conditions.
Exports to also remain flat at 244,000 tons, based on the available production. However, mainly due to growth in the Asian and Middle East markets, and the weakening rand exchange rate, South Africa’s lemon/lime exports have risen from 219,617 tons in 2013/14.

Distribution of Citrus Production by Area

Source: USDA GAIN report: South Africa Citrus Supply and Demand Report published December 10, 2015

Aerial view of the Limpopo River: By TSGT CARY HUMPHRIES [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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EU says will review CBS situation before next citrus export season

The European Commission, together with Member States, says it will review the situation with citrus black spot CBS interceptions well before the next export season and non-EU countries with recurrent interceptions will be approached on how to comply better with the EU requirements.

The European Commission says, together with Member States, it will review the situation with citrus black spot (CBS) interceptions well before the next export season. Non-EU countries with recurrent interceptions will be approached on how to comply better with the EU requirements. Furthermore, specific audits to evaluate the system of official controls and certification of citrus fruit for export to the EU are planned by the Food and Veterinary Office in 2016, including to South Africa and Argentina.

This is among the information provided on behalf of the Commission by EU Chief for Health and Food Safety, Vytenis Andriukaitis. He was responding to a written question in the European Parliament from Spanish MEP Clara Aguilera García (S&D). Aguilera had raised concerns about cases of the disease in citrus imports from South Africa and Argentina, asking how the Commission planned to prevent CBS spreading to the EU.

Andriukaitis said due to the recurrent number of interceptions of this pest on citrus fruit from South Africa during the 2015 import season, the possible need to revise Decision 2014/422/EU was discussed with Member States. “They agreed to maintain the current emergency measures requesting an increased vigilance to South Africa for the 2015 season.

“From 9 October onwards, South African authorities have unilaterally decided to ban the export to the Union of citrus fruit originating in areas where Phyllosticta citricarpa is present. Finally, the number of import interceptions from South Africa has decreased in 2015 compared to previous years,” he said.

He went on to say the situation would be reviewed before the next export season.

Image: By Cesar Calderon (USDA APHIS PPQ, [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons