EU bans S.Africa citrus imports - CNBC Africa

EU bans S.Africa citrus imports

Southern Africa

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South Africa exports 600,000 tonnes of citrus fruit to Europe each year. PHOTO: Getty Images

This is after the interception of 36 citrus consignments this year that were contaminated with a fungal black spot disease, which is currently not found in Europe.

“The introduction of citrus black spot into the EU territory would pose a serious threat to the EU's citrus-producing areas. For that reason, it is necessary to further restrict the import of citrus fruit from South Africa,” the European Commission said.

There is no known cure for the disease and while it may be harmless to humans, citrus black spot causes unsightly lesions on the fruit and leaves, reducing both harvest quality and quantity.

South Africa supplies around one third of the 28-nation bloc's total citrus imports and is the main source of oranges for Britain, Germany and France during the European summer months.

It exports 600,000 tonnes of citrus fruit to Europe each year and while the ban is expected to apply to only the 2012-2013 harvest, EU officials have warned that the restrictions could be extended to next year.

The ban is expected to apply to all South African citrus shipments from regions where the disease is present – this covers the bulk of the country's production.

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