At a recent meeting of the Citrus Growers’ Association and AgriSA in Johannesburg, agriculture, forestry and fisheries minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson said, “On the part of the ministry... we've agreed that as a government, we will be assisting the citrus industry to deepen market access in the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) nations, especially with India and China.
“When we meet as BRICS agriculture ministers later in the year, we will discuss this further,” she added.
South Africa, which is the world’s biggest exporter of oranges and grapefruit, has recently struggled to export its citrus products to the European Union (EU) due to citrus black spot, a fungal disease which affects the external appearance of the fruit.
Joemat-Pettersson stressed that the broadening of citrus trade relations with BRICS countries was not however an attempt to replace the EU market.
“This is not a replacement of the EU market, but the broadening and expanding of the citrus industry to access the BRICS market as well. The EU and the United States of America remain our traditional markets.
“Trade on the continent has also grown significantly, with Zimbabwe being one of the top importers of our citrus,” Joemat-Pettersson added.
Pieter Nortje, chairperson of the Citrus Growers Association commented, “This is a great day for the citrus industry. It is wonderful that we agree and share absolute common goals with our government.
“All that we are asking for as the industry is to be assisted with trade links to access various markets as we are unable to enter into those agreements by ourselves.”