It has been confirmed that the European Union (EU) has enforced the ban on South African citrus products.
This comes after the EU warned South Africa about the continuing disease in our products, specifically black spot. Last week the EU cautioned South Africa about its intent to ban citrus products for the coming year. This has now been imposed and poses a risk to our economy (see below).
Currently, the citrus industry employs 40 000 permanent workers and an additional 40 000 seasonal workers. If this ban is not lifted urgently, 80 000 jobs could be affected and the prohibition on SA products to the EU could cost the country over R13 billion per annum.
Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Tina Joemat-Pettersson, in conjunction with her colleague and Minister of Trade and Industry Rob Davies must act urgently and reassure the European community that everything will be done to prevent black spot from spreading. It is essential to reassure investors that South Africa priotises pest control.
Minister of Trade and Industry Rob Davies
Earlier this year, the DA urged Minster Joemat-Petersson to priotise animal disease and pest control measures. This was in light of a EU delegation visit to the country to assess whether sufficient disease control measures had been put in place after the 2011 outbreak of foot and mouth disease which led to another ban on some SA meat exports.
This meant that South Africa was losing an additional R4 billion per annum. In its report after the oversight visit to South Africa, the EU highlighted that there was clearly still a lack of sufficient control measures in South Africa as the enforcing authorities were not sufficiently empowered to do so by the legislation.
The DA urged the Minster to enact the Animal Health Act of 2002, which would do so, but this is yet to be done.
Clearly the Minster has failed to prioritise animal health and pest control measures and this will cost South Africa R15 billion - as a result of both meat and citrus export bans.
The DA urges government to do everything possible to reassure investors that pest control measures will be implemented without delay. Jobs, families and ultimately breadwinners are depending on this sector for their livelihoods.
The time for ignoring our calls for greater pest control measures is over. Government must now act without delay.
Statement issued by Annette Steyn MP, DA Shadow Minister of Agriculture, Forestry & Fisheries, November 28 2013
Press statement from the European Commission, November 28 2013:
Plant Health: Experts endorse emergency measures to restrict the import of citrus fruit from South Africa
Emergency measures proposed by the Commission to tackle citrus fruit from South Africa contaminated with citrus black spot, a harmful fungus not native to Europe, were today endorsed by Member State experts meeting at the Standing Committee on Plant Health (SCPH). Citrus black spot, caused by the fungusGuignardia citricarpa, is a plant disease which attacks citrus plants causing high losses to citrus fruit production.
The EU is free from citrus black spot. During 2013, citrus black spot has been intercepted at the arrival into the EU in 36 consignments of citrus fruit from South Africa, although this is explicitly against EU´s import requirements. In 2013 around 600 000 tons of citrus fruit has been imported from South Africa representing approximately a third of the total import of citrus fruit in the EU territory.
The introduction of citrus black spot into the EU territory would pose a serious threat to the EU's citrus producing areas. For that reason, it is necessary to further restrict the import of citrus fruit from South Africa. The new EU measures apply for citrus fruit produced during the 2012-2013 growing season, allowing only the entrance into the EU of citrus fruit originating in South African pest free areas for citrus black spot.