Millions of cartons of citrus fruit worth nearly R654m are rotting in containers stuck in European ports after the EU introduced new phytosanitary requirements in July. These effectively block SA from accessing the market, threatening the viability of a subsector that generates R20bn annually and supports 120,000 jobs.
SA Citrus Growers Association CEO Justin Chadwick told AFP at the weekend it is a disaster.
“Food that has fantastic quality and is safe is sitting there … at a time when people are worried about food security.”
SA is the world’s secondlargest exporter of fresh citrus fruit after Spain, but Brussels says its new rules are aimed at combating the potential spread of the false codling moth, an African pest that has a soft spot for oranges and grapefruit. The rules came into force when ships carrying hundreds of containers of SA fruit bound for Europe were already at sea and were blocked on arrival.
The association has argued the cold treatment prescribed by Europe’s new rules is contrary to scientific evidence and contravenes international
requirements for phytosanitary trade regulations because it is arbitrary and unnecessarily restrictive. The association’s Deon Joubert said Europe’s consumers and SA’s rural workers will pay the price.
In a similar move, Chinese authorities recently suspended wool imports from SA because of a foot-and-mouth disease outbreak, leaving the subsector reeling. Wool is the fifth-largest agricultural export after oranges, grapes, wine and apples.
China, which absorbs more than two-thirds of the world’s wool imports, has accounted for about 70% of SA’s wool exports in value terms in recent years.
Industry bodies Agri SA and the National Wool Growers’ Association of SA said last week they were extremely concerned “about the unjustifiable ban on wool exports to China”.
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