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Black Spot still a threat to local citrus


In a follow up to THG’s on-going reporting on the threat posed to the local citrus industry by Citrus Black Spot (CBS), unfortunately, the news gets worse, not better.

All through the 2013 season, lucrative SA citrus exports to the European Union (EU) were held to ransom by the imposition of a European Commission (EC) ban on the importation of SA citrus infected with CBS. This, despite the fact that only very few isolated shipments were detected and blocked out of over 100 million cartons of citrus exported annually to the EU. But nonetheless, a move that placed over 80 000 South African jobs and billions of rand in foreign earnings in jeopardy. After SA citrus authorities and growers took preventative measures on a wide scale to ensure continuing trouble-free, and indeed CBS-free, exports, the ban was lifted late in 2013 – much to the relief of all concerned.
Although CBS is widely regarded by experts to pose no threat to EU citrus growers due to the unsuitable European climate, and efforts to eradicate this fungal disease continue unabated locally, it was announced on 27 May that the EC has decided to not only re-impose the former ban, but further indicated that “even stricter measures” would be enforced in future. SA authorities report that the situation “is well under control” in the country but admits that the new ban once again puts a vital sector of the South African economy at risk.

The out-going minister of agriculture, Tina Joemat-Pettersson has been widely criticised by the DA as “not doing enough” to address the problem of CBS and has called for wider and more stringent pest control and disease measures to be implemented throughout SA agriculture. The DA has indicated that it will, “at the earliest available opportunity” request that the new minister of agriculture, Senzeni Zokwana, table a comprehensive plan to parliament on how he intends to restore South Africa’s exporting reputation.

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