South African citrus industry lifted by EU audit -

South African citrus industry lifted by EU audit

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South African citrus industry lifted by EU audit

South Africa's citrus industry has been given a boost by a European Union (EU) audit praising the country's citrus black spot (CBS) risk management system. oranges_13945135 sq

The audit was carried out between Feb. 24 and March 6 by the Food and Veterinary Office (FVO), an independent EU Commission service tasked with food safety and plant health.

South Africa exports around 650,000 metric tons (MT) of citrus to the EU annually, but in March this year suspended shipments to Spain amid concerns over how tests for CBS are carried out.

"The FVO team found that the NPPO [National Plant Protection Office] has reviewed and strengthened significantly its export procedures and system of official checks to take account of the outcome of the 2014 export season and the investigations carried out following findings of non-compliance and notifications of interception from the EU," the report said.

"These are fully in line with the revised EU requirements for the import of such fruit from South Africa."

The audit did add, however, that it was not clear if the system for planning the checks took account of the practical considerations or operational criteria, in particular with respect to the resources necessary to ensure the sampling method for additional checks could be consistently applied.

Citrus Growers Association (CGA) of Southern Africa CEO Justin Chadwick said in a weekly newsletter that the report greatly enhanced the likelihood of 'stable and predictable' trade conditions for South African citrus exporters to the EU.

"The South African citrus industry has gone to great lengths to ensure compliance with, and a commitment to meeting the European Union’s requirements," Chadwick said.

"This has been achieved at enormous cost to the SA government and citrus industry and should be seen against the backdrop of an ongoing scientific dispute since 1992 on the true risk of CBS being transmitted to citrus production areas in the southern parts of Europe.

"The SA citrus industry employs an estimated 100 000 people and exports account for 80% of its R9.4bn [US$710 million] annual revenue, 40% of which is generated from exports to the EU."


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