• E’Us recent ban on citrus imports from Southern Africa to weigh on farmers
  • South Africa, which exports circa 12% to be affected most
  • Despite the new measures put on citrus exports, Zimbabwean farmers won’t benefit as the conditions are still alien to the country

Harare- The recent prohibition on citrus imports by the European Union from Southern Africa in mid-February is expected to have significant repercussions for farmers who have been reaping the benefits of exporting their final products to Europe. The ban was implemented due to the emergence of False Codling Moth (FCM) believed to have originated from non-EU countries. South Africa, which has been the primary citrus supplier to the EU, accounting for approximately 12%, is anticipated to be the most affected in the Southern African region, with potential spill over effects on neighbouring countries if the ban persists in the medium to short term. It is crucial to consider alternative markets and diversification strategies for affected farmers in order to mitigate potential losses and maintain economic stability.

According to Zimtrade, the new requirements that have been put in place by EU are meant to protect consumers and prevent the spread of the False Codling Moth (FCM) into the Union. The EU enacted a regulation (Regulation 2022/959), which requires precooling systems for citrus fruits, which unfortunately Zimbabwe is yet to introduce in the country, as such affecting the country’s exports to the EU. So, the new regulations do not apply to Zimbabwe alone, but to the top sources of citrus for EU.

Following investigations done by the EU into the False Codling Moth (FCM), they identified it as a quarantine pest because it is not in the EU territory, meaning it originates elsewhere.  It was identified that potential sources of the pests are Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, South Africa, and Zimbabwe. These are some of the top exporters of citrus to the EU.

To meet the new requirements, which will allow local farmers to resume exports of citrus into EU, there is need for new investments in the industry to ensure compliance with the new phytosanitary requirements and these will have the greatest impact in the first year of implementation wherein the procurement of the cold chain infrastructure is made, ZimTrade added.

The phytosanitary requirements on citrus exports will reduce the volumes exported to Europe from Zimbabwe and the SADC region. Prices will however likely to remain constant as commodity prices are regulated and most exporters have contractual obligations to supply at the stipulated prices. Indications are that the prices might rise if all supply is dwindled. Profit margins from exporters are however expected to be reduced as farmers will bear the additional cost of compliance.

ZimTrade added that although there is a likely a negative impact on exports of citrus to EU, Zimbabwe produces top quality produce that have a demand in other markets, such as United Arab Emirates, and Saudi Arabia. Following the signing of the citrus protocol between Zimbabwe and China, the Asian market has been identified as the market with the highest demand potential. The citrus protocol presents a positive initiative towards the bilateral trade between Zimbabwe and China.

There is also a market in the region, with countries Zambia, Botswana, Mozambique, Democratic Republic of Congo toping some of the markets with demand. 

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals highlights the importance of structural transformation, with value addition being key. The NDS1 endeavors to transform the economy through moving up several value chains as well as domesticating these value chains.

On the regional level, SADC has prioritized six value chain clusters for potential development which include agro processing. Value chains specific to Zimbabwe include horticultural produce, soya, sugar amongst other products. The AfCFTA presents potential and opportunities for regional value chains and Zimbabwe’s participation in these because its successful implementation will likely strengthen regional integration efforts.

Conclusion: Are we prepared to weather different storms in supply chains.

it is imperative that we acknowledge the potential impact of changes in supply chains on the agriculture industry. The recent EU changes serve as a catalyst for the industry to be well-prepared and stay abreast to best global standards applied in different jurisdictions that Zimbabwe and the SADC region exports its produce to. This requires significant investment across different areas within the agric supply chain. Current economic challenges in the short to medium term pose a threat to these prospects.

Furthermore, power availability must be guaranteed for citrus farmers to power new refrigerator tech required by the sector, which may prove difficult for the country and the region in the short term. It is prudent to consider the EU stance on citrus with a view that other markets worldwide may follow suit, potentially impacting SADC citrus exports.

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