South African citrus industry plans 2012 strategy
South African citrus growers are determined to be more clued up for next year's season to avoid getting caught out by unexpected events.
Citrus Growers'Association chief executive officer Justin Chadwick, described last year's season as 'difficult' and said it was crucial for growers and exporters to be well informed.
"Things change very quickly. We must have very good information systems in place so that we understand what is happening and don't get any surprises," he told www.freshfruitportal.com.
In particular, he was referring to the late Egyptian fruit exports to Russia which overlapped with South Africa's shipments, due to the Middle Eastern country's political uprising that led to delays. Russia is one of South Africa's key markets and last year accounted for 12% of all exports.
Chadwick said this had a domino effect with South African exporters suddenly diverting goods to other destinations such as the Middle and Far East at the last minute.
"It was not a successful season for us in terms of returns to the farmer," he noted.
In addition, the quality of farmers' navels and soft citrus was affected by intense heat during the growing season and rainfall during harvesting.
"We will look at understanding what are the different things we need to look after in terms of temperatures and rainfalls.
"For example, getting ideas from scientists about what are the critical factors and if they are different from the norm we need to look carefully at the fruit when it is packed and exported."
Other pressures include a strong rand for most of the season and a cutback in Europe on imported products due to the financial crisis.