Virus in Europe hits lo­cal citrus in­dus­try

Pretoria News - - FRONT PAGE - | CAJ News

THE emer­gence of Europe as the epi­cen­tre of the rag­ing coro­n­avirus (Covid-19) has put a dent in a record year for the citrus in­dus­try in south­ern Africa.

The re­gion could have a record 143.3 mil­lion car­tons of citrus fruit for the ex­port mar­ket this year, ac­cord­ing to data from the Citrus Grow­ers’ As­so­ci­a­tion of South­ern Africa.

This is an in­crease of 13% from the pre­vi­ous sea­son.

“In nor­mal times, we would be re­joic­ing with citrus farm­ers this year,” said Wandile Sihlobo, the econ­o­mist at the Agri­cul­tural Busi­ness Cham­ber, an in­flu­en­tial as­so­ci­a­tion of agribusi­nesses op­er­at­ing in south­ern Africa.

He was re­fer­ring to the out­break of Covid-19. “These are not nor­mal times,” the econ­o­mist said.

Shihlobo noted the spread­ing of Covid-19 was al­ready dis­rupt­ing global sup­ply chains, re­sult­ing in early neg­a­tive signs through a de­cline in com­mod­ity prices.

In the case of south­ern Africa’s citrus, the EU re­gion, where the coro­n­avirus Covid-19 is spread­ing the fastest, is one of the key ex­port mar­kets. “Any pro­longed dis­rup­tions in lo­gis­tics there would present risks for south­ern Africa’s citrus farm­ing com­mu­nity and other ex­porters to this re­gion, es­pe­cially as the in­dus­try is ap­proach­ing the har­vest­ing pe­riod,” Sihlobo said.

He said that while the ex­pected abun­dant sup­ply of agri­cul­tural com­modi­ties such as grains and fruits, pro­vided com­fort that South Africa and the re­gion would have enough food for its con­sumers, at least on a na­tional level, the farm­ing econ­omy could take a knock in the event of no­table de­cline in global de­mand.

SOUTH­ERN Africa could have had a record 143.3 mil­lion car­tons of citrus fruit for the ex­port mar­ket this year.

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