Citrus exports to the EU still under threat from CBS

Incidences of Citrus Black Spot (CBS) that curbed exports in 2015 showed the true grit of the Citrus Growers’ Association (CGA) and local citrus growers, who made hard decisions in a seemingly neverending battle with European authorities.

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In July 2015, the  European Union (EU) informed South Africa’s Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) of three shipments of South African organic lemons with CBS.

A decision was immediately taken to stop these exports and organic growers were commended for their bravery by Deon Joubert,
CGA special envoy of market access and EU matters. Joubert said these decisions had not been easy but had been taken to remove any risk to the industry as a whole.

“The South African citrus industry has gone to great lengths and enormous cost to ensure compliance with the EU’s requirements. These include new testing regimes, as well as a comprehensive CBS risk management programme,” he said.

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According to Justin Chadwick, CGA CEO, the CBS debate regarding the true risk of the disease being transmitted to citrus
production areas in the southern parts of Europe has been ongoing since 1992. South African citrus experts visited Europe to inspect the methods used on the continent to identify CBS, and to understand how they were applied.

The team of experts, led by DAFF and including representation from the Agricultural Research Council and Citrus Research
International, aimed at understanding why interceptions happened, with a view to assisting South Africa’s ongoing processes of mitigating risk.