South Africa maintains its position as the second-largest exporter of fresh citrus in the world, after record-breaking exports that delivered 146-million cartons of citrus in 2020.

Citrus is incredibly important in South Africa’s agricultural sector, and provides a significant contribution to job creation and economic activity in rural communities.

“The industry has expanded notably over the past decade, and we thank the farmers for showing confidence and increasing the investments. The industry’s investment is starting to pay off, as the Citrus Growers Association reported this morning (Tuesday) that South Africa exported a record 146-million cartons of citrus in 2020; which means we are still the world’s second-largest exporter of fresh citrus after Spain,” said Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development Minister Thoko Didiza in a statement on Wednesday, February 3.

Going forward, Didiza says that a challenge will be ensuring that, “as a government, we open more export markets for the industry, as the estimates suggest, there will be roughly 300 000 tons added into the current volumes in the next three years that require an export market”.

Government will continue to work with the industry and other stakeholders to expand the market access to destinations such as the United States, China and India.

“Agriculture is part of the Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan that the president announced late last year; to this end, we will continue working with all stakeholders to ensure that we provide a policy environment conducive for all subsectors to prosper. Part of the growth-enhancing interventions is detailed in the Sector Master Plan, which will be announced within the first quarter of the year,” the Minister said.

The growth projections for soft citrus, lemons and Valencia oranges alone indicate an expected additional R6.8-billion in foreign exchange earnings and the creation of 22 250 sustainable jobs over the next three years.

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