THE CITRUS industry is set to break previous export records with an estimated 158.7 million cartons for the year 2021. Photo: Simphiwe Mbokazi.
THE CITRUS industry is set to break previous export records with an estimated 158.7 million cartons for the year 2021. Photo: Simphiwe Mbokazi.

Citrus industry predicts another year of growth

By Given Majola Time of article published Mar 21, 2021

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THE CITRUS industry is set to break previous export records with an estimated 158.7 million cartons for the year 2021.

The Citrus Growers Association of Southern Africa (CGA) this week said that the estimate represented a third consecutive season of record export volumes, with 130m cartons exported in 2019 and 146m last year.

The CGA said this year’s projection indicated a 22 percent growth in just two years.

CGA chief executive Justin Chadwick said the figures indicated phenomenal growth in the industry and the economy. “To maximise the potential of the citrus industry as a South African export, we are going to need government and other stakeholders to play their part,” Chadwick said.

“For example, we will be relying heavily on the efficiency of our ports to successfully ship the additional 13million cartons estimated for this year alone.”

South Africa supplies citrus to Spain and other European countries.

Absa Agribusiness senior economist Dr Marlene Louw said the promising prospects pointed to another year in which the citrus industry, and the whole agricultural sector, would play a pivotal role in stimulating economic growth, while also contributing to job creation and poverty alleviation.

“In 2020, the agriculture sector supported economic growth when other industries were battling,” Louw said. “The CGA is to be commended for the pivotal role it played in ensuring that the industry operated effectively and roughly R26.6 billion of citrus was exported last year, which was a record when the hard lockdown in 2020 coincided with our citrus exporting season.”

The CGA said growth projections for soft citrus, lemons and Valencia oranges alone would fetch an additional R6.8bn in foreign exchange earnings and the creation of 22 250 sustainable jobs over the next three years.

FNB Agribusiness senior economist Paul Makube said the citrus industry had become a significant earner of export revenue in the agriculture space.

“The increased demand for the South African fruit attracted more investment in terms of planted area, improved cultivars, access to water resources, undercover operations (nets) that improve pack-out volumes, as well as establishing good strategic relationships with agents, exporters and buyers,” said Makube.

The industry estimates that South

Africa’s citrus output would increase 76 percent in 2030 and more export markets would be needed.

Wandile Sihlobo said the citrus industry was an example of what the sector aspired to see across various agricultural subsectors, particularly within the horticulture space (fruits and vegetables), which were labour intensive.

“Expansion in area plantings is essential for job creation and vibrancy in rural South Africa. Notably, South Africa should need to intensify efforts on export markets; there is so much volume coming out of the fields and more to come in the next few years,” said Sihlobo.

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