The sudden implementation of a new rule means that South African citrus worth hundreds of millions of rand could be destroyed when it reaches ports in Europe.
Food for Mzansi reports that the new regulations take effect from today 14 July, and were published last month while 3.2 million cartons of citrus worth R605 million were underway to European markets. They will arrive after that date and, unless European regulators have a change of heart, they will not be allowed in.
The new regulation is controversial. It requires require extensive, expensive and possibly damaging cold storage before shipment, ostensibly to protect European countries from an invasion of false coddling moth. However South Africa’s Citrus Growers Association contends it is a protectionist trade block, designed to favour Spanish citrus.
Existing regulations have been scientifically proven to ensure South African citrus is safe, they say, and the new regulations are unnecessary. South Africa is seeking to have the new rules reconsidered.
“They carry no technical weight and appear to be nothing more than a politically motivated move by Spanish producers to freeze Southern African citrus from the European market,” says Deon Joubert of the Citrus Growers Association.
“It would be unconscionable if political agendas result in millions of cartons of top-quality citrus being destroyed,” he said.