Skip to main content

Drought hits SA’s citrus crops

| Economic factors

South Africa’s worst drought in a century will reduce the citrus harvest this year and result in smaller-sized oranges which are harder to sell, according to an industry body.

Production of navel oranges and soft citrus fruits from Western Cape province is forecast to record a “slight reduction”, Justin Chadwick, chief executive officer of the Citrus Growers’ Association, said in an interview in Johannesburg on Thursday.

“We anticipate a reduction in our export volumes because of the drought conditions and extreme heat,” Chadwick said. “The big concern now is we have small amounts of small fruit and a lot of markets don’t like small fruit. They like big fruit.”

South Africa is the world’s largest citrus shipper after Spain and the industry employs an estimated 100 000 people. Exports account for 80 percent of the industry’s R9.4 billion ($611 million) in annual revenue. The nation last year suffered its lowest rainfall since records began in 1904, cutting output of crops such as grains, wine grapes and peanuts.

The country exported 1.77 million metric tons of citrus fruits last year. Chadwick didn’t give a specific forecast of sales or production for this year.

South Africa has applied to the US Department of Agriculture to allow the sale of citrus products from all regions, not just the Northern and Western Cape provinces currently, according to Chadwick. The process has been pending for the past 10 months, said Chadwick.

“We have an application in for access for the rest of South Africa,” he said. “Because of the impasse of AGOA, that application has stalled,” referring to the African Growth and Opportunity Act, an American program to help African exporters.

South Africa has been under pressure to reach an agreement with the US to open its market to American meat in order to retain tariff-free access under AGOA.

Related Articles

Official fuel prices for December: margin hikes...

By: Jason Woosey - IOL The Department of Mineral Resources and Energy (DMRE) has announced the official petrol and diesel price adjustments for December.

South Africans predicted to spend R224bn this f...

According to the results from the sixth annual Summer Spending Survey by short-term lender Wonga, South Africans are expected to spend an estimated R224 billion over this year’s festive season.

Grocery budgets: Say goodbye to these foods as ...

By: IOL Business Fried chips, potato salad, baked or roasted potatoes, and stews and curries with potatoes – whichever your favourite, you may have to do without if you have any hope of spending less on groceries in the coming weeks. And don’t p...

Black Friday shoppers spent R4.5bn, with jewell...

By: TimesLive Black Friday 2023 levels reflected tougher economic conditions in South Africa, but sales totalled R4.5bn.

December fuel price outlook is good news for bo...

By: IOL With a week to go until December’s fuel price sums are finalised, the outlook is positive for both petrol and diesel.