South Africa protects citrus reputation
She African authorities have suspended inspections of all citrus fruits from Valencia destined for the European Union, thus putting an early end to shipments. The deadline for inspections was mid-September.
In recent seasons, South Africa has routinely ended its shipping program as part of its due diligence to prevent late-season fruit potentially carrying black spot from entering the EU. citrus fruit (CBS).
Deon Joubert, CGA Special Envoy, Market Access and EU Issues, told Fruitnet that various measures taken this year, as well as the early market shutdown, demonstrate South Africa’s diligence and proactive approach to mitigate the risk of CBS for the EU.
“This despite extremely difficult circumstances – around 300 lives were lost in the July unrest and the inability of the supply chain for a month at the height of the season,” Joubert explained.
Despite these unprecedented challenges, the South African citrus industry has “moved mountains” to maintain trade in an industry employing 140,000 people and 1.4 million people depending on it for their livelihoods, he said. he continued.
“We have thus mitigated potential plant health problems for our export partners, through diligent and proactive management. “
Joubert lifted the veil on what exactly happened this year and what made it one of the most difficult export seasons.
“It has been extremely difficult for us to comply with our normal CBS regimes,” he noted. “The citrus season in South Africa 2021 ran normally until the end of June 2021. By that time, South Africa had recorded three cases of CBS NONC in the EU.
“Then, on July 29, 2021, the CGA Disaster Management Committee asked the South African Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DALRRD) to stop fruit inspections from all orchards in South African citrus with historical occurrences of CBS.
“This demand to stop the packaging of all EU accredited and inspected orchards was made necessary by the widespread riots and looting that hit parts of KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng in early July 2021,” said Jounert. “It closed highways and the port of Durban.
Unfortunately, this unrest escalated over the next four weeks and was exacerbated by the cyberattack on Transnet’s port terminals in South Africa the same month, which forced it to declare force majeure due to the inability of its ports to function. “
This effectively blocked the citrus supply chain at the height of the citrus season in South Africa. No one could reach or move the thousands of tonnes of fruit stuck in the crippled supply chain of Kwa-Zulu Natal and other ports across the country.
“The citrus industry has recognized that bottlenecks may increase the risk of intercepting CBS symptoms and therefore called for the drastic measure of only conditioning historic“ clean ”CBS orchards,” a- he explained.
In addition, all growers were formally requested to test all their orchards and, regardless of their “own” status, to remove those they considered to pose potential risks to CBS. “There has been a significant response from growers with voluntary extensive orchard withdrawals implemented.
“To put it all into perspective, these two incidents in July 2021 resulted in 300,000 pallets of citrus stranded at one point between the floors of packaging plants and ships – on farms, in trucks, depots and in the port of Durban over a period of four weeks, ”Joubert explained. “Even when the supply chain started to open up in early August, the mismatch between incoming and outgoing ships [and market destinations], fruit available in ports and along the supply route, and imports of dry goods have compounded the already dire situation.
All of this culminated in the South African citrus industry’s August 30 decision to end inspections of Valencia oranges destined for Europe, “he added.