Friday 1 March 2024

SA citrus worth R654 million could be damaged as a result of the EU's new cold-treatment regulations.

By: Business Unusual Writer  

Due to the European Union's (EU) new cold-treatment standards for citrus, which are slated to go into effect on July 14, as much as R654 million worth of South African citrus that is already on its way to Europe may be destroyed. A new rule was adopted last month by the EU's Standing Committee on Plants, Animals, Food, and Feed, which will compel countries in southern Africa to use an extremely cold treatment to combat the false codling moth (FCM).

The moth, officially known as Thaumatotibia leucotreta, is believed to contaminate fruit shipments because it is known to feed on everything from avocado to corn. Deon Joubert, the Citrus Growers' Association's (CGA) special representative for market access and EU concerns, predicted that if implemented this Thursday, it will lead to the destruction of millions of citrus cartons already destined for the EU.

Numerous citrus fruit shipments are presently in transit to the EU and will arrive there following the implementation of the new sanitary criteria on July 14th. Authorities may trash almost 3.2 million boxes, worth R605 million or €38.4 million.

According to Joubert, "These laws substantially alter the hitherto applicable phytosanitary criteria for citrus originating from South Africa." He stated that before importation and before consignments are sent, "They mandate that imports of citrus fruit must undergo defined mandatory cold treatment processes and precooling measures for particular periods (up to 25 days of cold treatment)."

The CGA considers the new laws to be draconian and inaccurate. It claimed that its management procedures had successfully warded off diseases and pests. South Africa hasn't recorded more than 19 FCM incidences per year during the past three years. In contrast to the over 240 cases from Europe and other third-importing countries, it only reported 15 incidents last year. For these nations, no restrictions have been suggested by the EU.

The ruling will have devastating effects for South Africa's citrus farmers, who export up to 800,000 tons of fruit to Europe each year. Additionally, because organic and "chem-free" oranges are vulnerable to chilling injury, it essentially forces South African growers to stop exporting them.

"How unjustified and discriminatory this legislation is, with European consumers and local rural workers ultimately bearing the cost, is highlighted by the fact that authorities are trying to enforce these new regulations just 23 days after publication, making it impossible for South African growers to comply," said Joubert. He claimed that South Africa is currently discussing the new rules with its EU counterparts.


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