SA growers gear up for South Korea citrus exports
South African citrus producers have until tomorrow to submit their orchard details to the Department of Agriculture, Forestry & Fisheries (DAFF) for the chance to export grapefruit and lemons to South Korea.
DAFF extended the original deadline, which was Mar. 28, by three days to give growers more time to send in their production unit codes.
Senior plant health officer Patrick Magadani Fulufhelo, said between 40-50 growers had already submitted their details.
"We are in regular communication with the South Korean authorities and the conversation is very promising," said Magadani Fulufhelo.
He said DAFF was hoping to get a definitive answer within the next month.
Citrus Growers Association (CGA) chief executive officer Justin Chadwick, said it looked "almost certain" South Korea would approve import of the fruit later this year.
Growers and exporters are pleased about a new market opening up in the East at a time when their key import market, Europe is suffering from economic difficulties.
This season looks to be a particularly good one with 3.6% year-on-year rise in citrus volumes predicted from South Africa, Swaziland, Mozambique and Zimbawe.
Cape Citrus general manager Scott Dowle described the forthcoming season as a strong one forecasting a 15% year-on-year export rise on last year's 21,300 metric tons.
"South Africa as a whole is producing a lot of citrus, one could argue we are producing too much. We have seen that Europe, which is our biggest market, has severe economic problems so people are looking at emerging markets. I think, on the whole, any new market is welcome."
Colors Fruit head of citrus Nico Veldsman agreed new export avenues were a positive development.
"It's important to recognize that Europe is in a down turn, any alternative in the East will come as an strong opportunity for us. This will enable us to help ensure sustainable farming for our growers through better return values."
The South African citrus season looks promising given Spain's problem with frost earlier in the year which is expected to shortern the length of their crop.
Producers have just started picking lemons and satsumas with the orange harvest expected to start in the next four weeks, followed by grapefruits a fortnight later.
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