This was after the EU notified the agriculture department that three consignments of organic lemons contained citrus black spot-infected fruit.
The decision to ring-fence the commodity, thus removing any possible risk stemming from it was not an easy one, said Deon Joubert, special envoy of Market Access and EU Matters for the Citrus Growers Association (CGA) in a statement.
“Moreover, it comes with a hefty price tag and financial loss for organic lemon growers. The South African industry commends these growers for demonstrating this sort of responsible behaviour and leadership.”
SA citrus experts are in Europe to inspect the procedures used to identify citrus black spot (CBS), and to understand how they are applied.
“The SA 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,” said Joubert.
The underlying issue was that agreement on the risk of CBS being transmitted by fruit to citrus orchards in the EU had yet to be reached, said Joubert.