Virus in Europe hits local citrus industry
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.