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“On the part of the ministry … we’ve agreed that as government, we will be assisting the citrus industry to deepen market access in the BRICS [Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa] nations, especially with India and China,” said Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Tina Joemat-Pettersson.
South Africa will push for these exports during a BRICS agriculture ministers meeting later in the year, said the minister.
“It is important to seek other export markets because we cannot put all our eggs in one basket,” Joemat-Petterson told the Afrikaans daily Beeld after meeting with representatives of the citrus industry.
The EU recently warned South Africa that it would act against its exports if it finds more than five citrus items with black spots.
The citrus black spot is a fungal disease that affects the external appearance of the fruit – it occurs in citrus plants throughout sub-tropical climates.
Pieter Nortje, Chairman of the South African Citrus Growers Association, said India did not have stringent requirements like the EU, but import surcharges of between 40 per cent and 45 per cent would make the citrus products very expensive for the Indian consumer.
Petterson said China had very strong conditions and she would try to convince them to modernise these.
South Africa’s citrus industry has consistently grown by about seven per cent annually for the past decade and is estimated to be worth between six and eight billion rand.
The African nation is the world’s biggest exporter of oranges and the largest shipper of grapefruit.