South African and US authorities have agreed to form a technical task team to facilitate better access to the American market for South African agricultural products.
This was announced after a recent meeting between Thoko Didiza, minister of agriculture, land reform and rural development, and Lana Marks, the US ambassador to South Africa. Their virtual meeting discussed agricultural trade relations that would mutually benefit both countries.
In a statement released after the meeting Didiza noted positive export results of citrus from South Africa to the US. As part of an export strategy, her department is set to establish a technical task team to facilitate market access for South African agricultural exports to the United States.
Didiza has expressed gratitude for the recent surge in export of citrus to the US market. “Such increase is encouraging, and I hope it will translate to other agricultural products getting to the US markets,” she said in the statement.
Speaking to Food For Mzansi, Reggie Ngcobo, spokesperson for the minister, said the establishment of a task team means that the South African agricultural sector will enjoy better access to the US market.
“The importance of the task team is to address challenges so that there is smooth access of agricultural products between the two countries.”
Didiza further remarked, “Increasing agricultural production is important for food security as well as contributing to the economy through trade.”
In a recent instalment of their “In Charts” series, fresh produce market analysis company Agronometrics illustrates how the US market for major citrus categories (grapefruit, lemons, oranges and limes) is evolving.
The report shows that orange prices have grown substantially over the last few weeks and that they are well above 2019 levels. South Africa, apart from California and Chile, is the only supplier of oranges to the US market.
The news of the citrus export boom comes on the back of an announcement by the industry earlier this week that citrus exports from some regions of South Africa to EU will be suspended.
The voluntarily measure, which comes into effect from Saturday, 12 September 2020, is being implemented to limit potential citrus black spot symptomatic fruits reaching European ports.
According to the statement South Africa received twelve notifications of false codling moth (a moth believed to have originated form Sub-Saharan Africa) interceptions from the EU.
The decision to suspend exports was taken by the Citrus Growers’ Association’s (CGA) disaster management committee. As a result, stricter measures have been implemented to mitigate the risk of additional moth interceptions.
It was stressed that citrus black spot free areas of the Western and Northern Cape are exempt from the ruling, as well as the low risk Gamtoos and Katriver production regions in the Eastern Cape.