Charles Rossouw, a farmer in Limpopo, is anxious about how the looming “black spot” ban on South African citrus exports to Europe will affect the industry.

“The decision to ban citrus exports to Europe will be detrimental. Where do you find a market for 40 percent of your product in one year?” asked Rossouw, who has farmed at Rosle Boerdery since 1995 and employs 600 people.

The ban’s introduction would be symbolic until next year’s growing season.

“This is a long-term crop and a lot of planning goes into it. There has never been an alert about this [black spot disease],” he said.

Rossouw said the ban was a political game to aid the Spanish and Italian economies and called on Rob Davies, the Trade and Industry Minister, to take necessary steps to stop the ban, including approaching the World Trade Organisation (WTO) to take the matter to court for clarity.

“They [the EU] need support for the negotiations for trade agreements in sub-Saharan Africa; the ban will have an effect on the talks.”

Rossouw said South African farmers have been exporting citrus to Europe for 100 years despite the black spot disease and a number of initiatives had been introduced to curb it, including increasing inspections. – Dineo Faku