The Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries says it will continuously strive to ensure compliance with the current measures for citrus black spot (CBS) set out by the European Union.
The phytosanitary (relating to measures for the control of plant diseases) measures for CBS on fruit imported from South Africa have been a point of discussion in the EU by the Standing Committee on Plant Health (SCPH) over the past few weeks.
Departmental Chief Director: Stakeholder Relations and Communications, Makenosi Maroo, said the measures are aimed at preventing the introduction of the fungus Guignardia (Phyllosticta) citricarpa, which causes lesions (black spots) on the citrus fruit.
"The EU market remains an important market for South African citrus and therefore, this department will continuously strive to ensure compliance with the current measures.
"The key instrument in achieving this compliance goal remains the CBS-risk management system, which aims to prevent the occurrence of CBS in consignments destined for the EU and other CBS-sensitive markets," she said.
Within the risk management service, Maroo said control measures (including registration of orchards and fields, mandatory spraying regimes and inspections pre and post-harvesting) are carried out to minimise the risk.
"We also continue to ensure that sufficient information is shared with the EU regulatory authorities on any matter concerning the risk management risk.
"The new measures currently being proposed by the SCPH require the sampling of fruit (600 fruit per 30 tons) and, where any symptoms are found, confirmatory tests to be undertaken.
"This will mean that the producer will incur additional costs for compliance and the department will have to bear the costs for an additional regulatory burden," she said.
Maroo said the department maintains its position that the commercial fruit does not pose a risk to the EU in terms of the introduction and establishment of CBS into the territory of the EU.
"However, we are committed to ensuring compliance and acknowledge the open channels of technical communication with the EC affording us opportunities to make inputs," she said.