Minister Joemat-Pettersson puts citrus industry on top of bilateral agenda

_: During last week’s meeting between the South African Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries and her counterpart, the German Minister of Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection, Minister Joemat-Pettersson raised numerous issues pertaining to the South African citrus industry, including the citrus black spot.

The European Commission Services introduced a threshold of five (5) interceptions of citrus black spot (CBS) for South African citrus in 2013. Once this threshold has been reached, South African citrus could be banned from the European Union (EU) market. This decision could have a substantial negative impact on South Africa’s citrus industry, South Africa’s exports to the EU and on the country’s economy.

The South African citrus industry stands to lose R3 billion worth of exports to the EU if market access is revoked. Close to 40% of fresh citrus fruit is exported to the region, annually. Germany is one of the major markets for South African citrus during the EU producers’ off-season. Spain, Italy and Greece are the primary exporters of citrus during the peak season.

As an additional part of the trade partnership between South Africa and Germany, the former is looking at an agreement for the protection of Geographical Indications (GIs) with regard to agricultural products such as cheese, meat products, olive oil, etc. The EU has a well-developed GI protection system. South Africa has just started with products like rooibos and honeybush tea.

“The bilateral meeting was aimed at deepening relations between Germany and South Africa. I would like to commend the German Minister for being supportive of South African agriculture. Minister Aigner has been an ally and a friend to our country and we are grateful for her unwavering support and assistance to our programmes. Threats to the European citrus market are a huge worry for us, notwithstanding the potential job losses in the sector. So far, the agriculture sector has worked extremely hard to retain employment, even growing jobs in provinces like the Eastern Cape and Free State, we are working with different stakeholders on this issue,” said Minister Joemat-Pettersson.