Wednesday, 03 February 2021

Cape Town: 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.

Citrus is one of South Africa’s most important subsectors in the agricultural sector that provides a significant contribution to job creation and economic activity in South Africa’s rural communities.

Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development Minister Thoko Didiza has commended the citrus industry on the record exports they made.

“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.

Didiza added that the challenge going forward is ensuring that, “as a government, we open more export markets for the industry, as the estimates suggest, there will be roughly 300 000 tons added into the current volumes in the next three years that require an export market”.

“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.

“Agriculture is part of the Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan that the president announced late last year; to this end, we will continue working with all stakeholders to ensure that we provide a policy environment conducive for all subsectors to prosper. Part of the growth-enhancing interventions is detailed in the Sector Master Plan, which will be announced within the first quarter of the year,” the Minister said.

The growth projections for soft citrus, lemons and Valencia oranges alone indicate an expected additional R6.8 billion in foreign exchange earnings and the creation of 22 250 sustainable jobs over the next three years.