First CBS interception in Europe "disappointing" for South African citrus growers
The South African citrus industry is on the hunt for answers as to how a consignment with citrus black spot (CBS) was intercepted in Europe, after receiving word from plant health authorities in the Netherlands today.
The interception is the first this year and as a result the industry has been issued a notification of phytosanitary non-compliance.
"This is disappointing news particularly considering the steps taken to ensure compliance with, and demonstrate commitment to meeting, the European Union's requirements, at enormous cost to the SA government and citrus industry - including testing regimes and a comprehensive CBS risk management," Citrus Growers' Association (CGA) of Southern Africa CEO Justin Chadwick said in a release.
"The Citrus Growers Association (CGA) will today dispatch an accredited expert to accompany representatives of the DAFF [Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries] to the farm in question to investigate how CBS could have slipped through the risk management net and, importantly, to propose any remedial measures necessary to prevent a reoccurrence."
Chadwick said CGA's special envoy to the EU, Deon Joubert, was dispatched to Europe today for discussions on the matter with all stakeholders.
"While today’s interception is a setback, it is also an opportunity for us to improve our risk management processes, which we will continue to implement in order to ensure unrestricted trade conditions for the immediate future," Chadwick said.
The executive emphasized that for the long term, it was important to note that there has been no agreement since 1992 between South Africa and the European Union on the risk of CBS being transmitted by fruit.
"There is still no agreement on whether commercial fruit from areas where CBS is present is a risk to citrus-producing countries of the EU where CBS is absent, the magnitude of any possible risk, or the measures required for adequate mitigation of the actual risk," he said.
"It remains imperative that this difference of opinion – and the science that underlies it – is resolved once and for all."
He added the EU continued to be an important historic market for the South African citrus industry.
"The CGA calls on the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Minister Senzeni Zokwana, to prioritise the swift and amicable resolution of the CBS dispute with the European Union," Chadwick said.
"The future of this important agricultural sector, the 120 000 jobs and their 1,2 million dependents depend on it."