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On the 8th of June, South African Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development Thoko Didiza and the Chinese Ambassador to South Africa Chen Xiaodong signed a revised protocol to ease current regulatory requirements for cold treatment of South African lemons exported to China.

This citrus protocol revises the shipping temperature for the disinfestation of lemons destined for China by permitting a slight increase of the shipping temperature. The previous shipping protocol of -0.5ºC caused cold damage to lemons and severely limited the amount sent to China from South Africa. The amendment allows lemons to be shipped at +3ºC for 18 days.

It has been six years since the revision to the protocol was first proposed, following a request submitted by the citrus industry to exempt lemons from the current regulatory requirements for False Coddling Moth (FCM) as the lemon category is not a host for this pest. This delay was exacerbated due to the severe restrictions on international travel resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic.

The signing of the revised protocol will assist with market growth as it is expected to earn significant additional export revenues for the South African citrus industry. This is also expected to create approximately 800 new job opportunities within the South African agricultural sector.

With the local lemon production expected to grow by 175 000 t by 2024, the finalisation of the revised protocol means China will become a critical new market for South Africa. Until recently Argentina and Chile have dominated exports to China. But as soon as the revised protocol is in place, South Africa expects to surpass both these countries’ exports, given that we will export about 25000t by 2024 to China.

CGA, the South African Citrus Growers’ Association, said that they are looking forward to continuing working with the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development, South African embassies, various government authorities and the citrus industry to keep enhancing and expanding market access, as well as maintaining access to key markets including China, the US, India, Philippines, Japan, Vietnam, and the European Union.

Article by Jacques Burger


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