SOUTH AFRICA – Western Cape citrus growers have received R2 million (USD 52,820) worth of support from the region’s Department of Agriculture for their Sterile Insect Technique (SIT) program.

Western Cape Department of Agriculture (WCDOA)’s financial contribution towards the SIT program is aimed towards the eradication of False Codling Moth (FCM) in the province.

The SIT program, according to the Citrus Growers Association of Southern Africa (CGA), is delivered by X Sterile Insect Technique (X-SIT), forming part of the RBX Group, and is a subsidiary of CGA.

CGA further outlines that this contribution will also assist growers in ensuring market access to both the EU and the USA, which supports over 20,000 jobs in the province.

The program is also expected to make a significant contribution to rural development and stability, while also earning much-needed foreign exchange.

Sterile Insect Technique (SIT) is a method of pest control that utilizes radiation-sterilized insects to decrease the pest population.

According to CGA, SIT is carried out in many countries on a range of insects, in all other countries the program is either completely government-funded or heavily subsidized by the government.

“In South Africa, however, the user pays the bill,” wrote Justin Chadwick in CGA’s weekly newsletter. “This contribution by the WCDOA will assist financially strapped growers in continuing to use this service.”

According to a recently published journal by MDPI, South Africa is the 13th largest producer and the second largest exporter of citrus fruit globally. Still, one of the big challenges in producing high-quality fruit, fit for the market, is the effective control of all pests and diseases.

“The false codling moth, and the fruit flies, can potentially infest citrus fruit and therefore pose a phytosanitary risk for export markets,” outlines the report.

GFG’s estimates reduction in grapefruit shipment in 2023

Meanwhile, the Grapefruit Focus Group (GFG) estimates for 2023 grapefruit shipment were 14% lower than 2022’s actual and a whopping 27% off 2021’s 17.4 million cartons.

This reducing trend according to CGA is because of their decision to restrict fruit marketing for processing purposes.

The outcome largely adopted with processing purpose fruit cited a drop from 2.7 million cartons in 2022 to under 500,000 in 2023.

Overall, in 2023, 5.8 million cartons were sent to the EU, surpassing the 4.9 million cartons of 2022, accounting for 47% of southern African grapefruit exports.

The other destination with a very slight increase over 2022 was China at 1.7 million cartons or 14% of the total grapefruit shipped.

Russia received 10% of grapefruit shipped increasing from 1.1 million cartons to 1.2 million cartons (level pegging with 2021).

“What is evident is the drop in demand in both Japan and the UK,” read the report. “The UK used to consistently import at the 800 000-carton level, and Japan above the 3 million carton mark,”

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