Johannesburg - The agriculture department has undertaken to try and ensure that South Africa complies with the European Commission's new citrus import requirements.

Measures had been put in place to ensure local citrus fruit exported to Europe did not contain the fungi which caused harmful black spots on the fruit, department spokeswoman Makenosi Maroo said on Friday.

The European Commission's standing committee on plant health (SCPH) on Tuesday endorsed stricter import requirements for South African citrus fruit exports to Europe.

“Within the risk management system, control measures - including registration of orchards and fields, mandatory spraying regimes and inspections pre- and post-harvesting - are carried out to minimise the risk,” Maroo said in a statement.

New measures proposed by the SCPH require the sampling of at least 600 of each type of citrus per 30 tonnes of fruit, and where symptoms of the Guignardia (Phyllosticta) citricarpa fungi were found, confirmatory tests had to be undertaken.

“This will mean that the producer will incur additional costs for compliance and the department will have to bear the costs for an additional regulatory burden,” said Maroo.

The department maintained that commercial fruit did not pose a risk to the EU.

“However, we are committed to ensuring compliance and acknowledge the open channels of technical communication with the EC affording us opportunities to make inputs,” said Maroo. - Sapa