JOHANNESBURG: South Africa, world's second largest citrus producer, is keen to export its citrus products to India and China amid threats to its biggest export market in the European Union.
"It is important to seek other export markets because we cannot put all our eggs in one basket," Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Tina Joemat-Petterson told the Afrikaans daily Beeld after meeting with representatives of the citrus industry.
Petterson said she would try to convince her Indian and Chinese counterparts to import South African citrus when she meets them at a BRICS gathering later this year.
The Minister emphasised though that the US and EU markets, to which almost half of South Africa's citrus products are exported, would not be neglected.
The EU has warned South Africa that it would act against its exports if it finds more than five citrus items with black spots.
Last year, 39 such black spots were found, but none so far this year, with the citrus season currently at its peak.
Pieter Nortje, chairman of the South African Citrus Growers Association, said India did not have very stringent requirements like that of the EU, but import surcharges of between 40 per cent and 45 per cent would make the citrus products very expensive for the Indian consumer.
Petterson said China had very strong conditions and she would try to convince them to modernise these.
South Africa's citrus industry has consistently grown by about 7 per cent annually for the past decade and is estimated to be worth between six and eight billion rands.
The country is the second largest citrus producer in the world after Spain.