JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – South African citrus producers will voluntarily suspend exports to the European Union in order to comply with EU standards against a fungal disease infecting the skin of some of their fruit, an industry body said on Monday.
The Citrus Growers Association of Southern Africa said sales to the lucrative market that usually takes up nearly half of its exports would fall by 15 per cent this year because of its action against the citrus black spot (CBS) disease.
The body said that although the small spots on the peel of some fruit were only a cosmetic problem, it would not insist on exports so as to continue accessing its key market in 2015.
“We don’t want this to become an escalation of trade issues, so we have voluntarily stopped that,” said Deon Joubert, an EU representative for the South African growers’ body.
Farmers would forego fruit exports worth 500 million rand ($46.5 million) and had incurred additional spraying costs of 480 million rand this year, Joubert said.
About 45 per cent of South Africa’s eight billion rand-a-year citrus exports end up in the EU, but the presence of the fungus in some shipments to the bloc led to a ban of lemons, oranges and tangerines late last year.