South Africa has become the second-largest exporter of fresh citrus in the world, after record-breaking exports that delivered 146 million cartons of citrus in 2020.
According to SAGovNews, citrus is one of South Africa’s most important sub-sectors in the agricultural sector, providing a significant contribution to job creation and economic activity in the country’s rural communities.
Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development Minister Thoko Didiza commended the citrus industry and said government needed to open more export markets for the industry.
“The industry has expanded notably over the past decade, and we thank the farmers for showing confidence and increasing the investments. The industry’s investment is starting to pay off, as the Citrus Growers’ Association reported this morning [Tuesday] that South Africa exported a record 146 million cartons of citrus in 2020; which means we are still the world’s second-largest exporter of fresh citrus after Spain,” Didiza said.
“As a government, we commit to working with the industry and other stakeholders to expand the market access to destinations such as the United States, China and India, and the European Union and other countries that already enjoy the South African citrus. In the process, we will work with relevant stakeholders in improving logistics for export activity.”
The growth projections for soft citrus, lemons and Valencia oranges alone indicated an expected additional R6.8 billion in foreign-exchange earnings and the creation of 22,250 sustainable jobs over the next three years, said government.
Didiza recently gazetted a statutory citrus export levy for 2021, which has been welcomed by the Citrus Growers’ Association of Southern Africa (CGA).
Justin Chadwick, chief executive officer (CEO) of the CGA, said the statutory levy increased from 74c per 15kg carton in 2020 to R1,64 per carton in 2021.
The levy has been gazetted for four years from 2021 to 2024. The increases for 2022 to 2024 were R1,68; R1,73; and R1,79 respectively.
He added that the response from export citrus producers had been overwhelmingly positive.
Chadwick said that there were about 1400 citrus growers that exported their fruit and paid levies on export cartons, which would provide an additional income of R134 million.
The funding received from these levies would be utilised for research, transformation in the sector, increased market access and administration, logistics and information.
Compiled by Vhahangwele Nemakonde. Additional reporting by Farmer’s Weekly