Heading into 2024, the exchange rate remains a challenge for South Africa but is a positive factor for exporting companies. Experts believe South African farmers can find a lucrative export market this year, especially in African countries.
Fruit exporter and managing director at Riyp, Uzair Essack believes there are always opportunities in every product and that every year when looking at the global market conditions and industry, one can find export opportunities.
Opportunities are there
“For example, in blueberries last year, Peru had an issue and because of this South Africa had a much better blueberry season. So, every year, products are evaluated taking the varying conditions from season to season into account.
“The opportunities come on the core popular lines like the royal gala apples, which are always in demand. The same with Forelle Pears, where there are always opportunities available. These are our easy sellers,” said Essack.
This year compared to last, according to Essack, provides better export opportunities, adding that more markets are opening slowly, and more products are allowed into new markets like avocados now being exported to China.
“The opportunities are increasing and with the exchange rate continuing to weaken, which is not good for the country but good for exports resulting in better opportunities,” said Essack.
Benefits of the Africa Continental Free Trade Zone
Meanwhile, National African Farmers Union president Motsepe Matlala said the signing and introduction of the Africa Continental Free Trade Zone have brought more opportunities to the entire African continent, adding that farmers in South Africa have plenty of opportunities that they need to take advantage of.
He believes that it is important that the South African food producers know the rules of engagement in those countries, and he noted that the Southern African Development Community (SADC) countries offer good export opportunities with maize to destinations like Zimbabwe and Tanzania.
“The difficulty notwithstanding is that our maize is genetically modified (GM) maize. Be that as it may be, the wine farmers mostly from the Western Cape are getting opportunities in Uganda. I think that is where the opportunities are primarily to market the wines in Uganda. Also in Uganda, we have citrus markets that present very good opportunities for our farmers,” he said.
Collaboration is key
Matlala said collaborations between South African farmers would enable for greater opportunities to present themselves, he urged that farmers should not point fingers at each other but rather guide one another on where to export.
“The opportunities are galore, having been opened by the Africa Continental Free Trade Zone. In countries like Mozambique, Botswana, Zimbabwe, and Namibia, they are now accredited to export meat to China, and doing business with Namibian farmers and business presents interesting opportunities.
“In the Eastern African countries like Uganda, there are serious opportunities like the export of tea, import of coffee and other agricultural products that present good opportunities,” he said.
Matlala said farmers should also focus on Africa for export opportunities that might arise in the year 2024.
He also advised farmers who want to build export and import relationships with other countries to build good connections with their commission offices and to do thorough research on the potential export market, adding that entering blindly would prove to be fruitless.
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