August 27, 2019
140 shipments of South African citrus intercepted because of pests since 2015
The fears of Valencian citrus growers of a spread of pests imported from third countries are increasing ahead of the arrival of the first batches of South African citrus. Recently, the Association of Perishable Exporters of South Africa announced its intention of exporting 9,000 containers of oranges to Europe during the 2019/2020 campaign, which will mostly enter through the Port of Vigo.
According to the European Food Safety Agency (EFSA), official data has served to conclude that in recent times, South Africa has been characterized by a systematic breach of its phytosanitary obligations.
Over the past five years, there have been 73 cases of CBS or citrus black spot detections (with the European Commission including it in the list of priority pests), while the Thaumatotibia leucotreta or false codling moth has been intercepted on 63 occasions. That entails almost 140 contaminated shipments.
A single port of entry
The Spanish citrus sector is consequently asking for all citrus shipments from third countries to enter the European Union through a single port. The idea is to achieve maximum specialization in phytosanitary controls, as is also done in the United States, where all imported citrus fruits arrive to a single port on the east and west coasts.
They also suggested the establishment of food safety and plant health inspections in the countries of origin, as required for Spanish agricultural products in the United States, Japan and other markets. In addition, the Valencian citrus sector said that South African fruit theoretically intended for the manufacture of juice should not be allowed to enter Europe “with lower precautions than those required for the fresh product.”
Another key move would be to ensure that the EU authorities choose a cold treatment system and make it compulsory for all citrus cargoes coming from South Africa, instead of allowing the country of origin or the importing company in question to make that decision.
AVA-Asaja also wants an impact study to assess the consequences of the trade agreements signed by the EU with South Africa in 1999 and 2016, as well as another report on the future impact of the exponential increase in the orange production in South Africa, where 23 million trees have been planted between 2012 and 2016.