DON'T MISS : Talking Africa Podcast – Nigeria’s Obiageli Ezekwesili: ‘Get interested by politics, or be ruled by idiots.

Can Maersk, MSC and Transnet save South Africa’s citrus season?

By Xolisa Phillip, in Johannesburg
Posted on Friday, 16 April 2021 20:47, updated on Monday, 19 April 2021 18:42

A street traders' fruit is displayed on a street in Pietermaritzburg
A street traders' fruit is displayed on a street in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa. REUTERS/Rogan Ward

South Africa’s citrus industry is preparing for another bumper export season in 2021, but the threat of Asian citrus greening disease looms large locally and for the rest of the continent. Added to this are a potential shortage of reefer – refrigerated –containers and the likelihood of congestion at key ports.

Asian citrus greening is the “most devastating disease of citrus worldwide,” according to the department of agriculture, which has issued an alert to farmers.

“The only cure is the chainsaw. Basically, you’ve got to take the trees out. […] It seems inevitable that at some point we will have … Asian greening entering South Africa,” Justin Chadwick, CEO of the Citrus Growers Association (CGA), tells The Africa Report.

Asian citrus greening disease is also referred to as Huanglongbing (HLB). It is caused by bacteria that is “insect vector-transmitted by the Asian citrus psyllid,” explains Chadwick.