New bilateral protocol for SA to export oranges to Vietnam is good news ahead of export season

The deal will lead to more job opportunities and revenue generation, says CGA. Photo: Simphiwe Mbokazi/ Independent Newspapers

The deal will lead to more job opportunities and revenue generation, says CGA. Photo: Simphiwe Mbokazi/ Independent Newspapers

Published Mar 17, 2024


The new bilateral protocol, which opens the Vietnamese market to South African oranges, is good news ahead of the 2024 citrus export season that ramps up next month, according to Citrus Growers' Association of Southern Africa (CGA).

The Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (Dalrrd) and CGA in a joint statement this week said Vietnam offered an export potential of 15 000 tons of oranges.

“This will translate into more job opportunities and revenue generation,” CGA said, adding that this historic protocol came almost a decade after a change in Vietnamese import regulations necessitated a new protocol.

“Dalrrd and the CGA have in that time worked together to make sure local citrus growers would benefit from increased market access. Their collaborative efforts were underpinned by extensive technical work provided by Citrus Research International, a subsidiary of the CGA,” it further said.

The opening of new export opportunities to drive export-led inclusive growth of the agricultural sector was part of the department’s strategy and commitment to support farmers.

Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development Minister, Thoko Didiza, reaffirmed this position last year when she addressed the CGA's Citrus Summit, encouraging the industry players to work with the department to expedite greater market access for citrus in the East.

Phytosanitary necessities have since been agreed on by Vietnam and South Africa. A recent final adjustment was the removal of two pests from the official pest list.

A new cold treatment protocol was set out in the phytosanitary import requirements document by the Plant Protection Department of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development of Vietnam.

“The opening of the Vietnam market is a major win for the citrus industry, especially considering that the South African citrus industry has the potential to increase its exports from 165 million to 260 million cartons (1 carton is equivalent to 15 kilograms) in the next eight years if all role-players work together as envisioned in the Agriculture and Agro-processing Master Plan (AAMP),” reads the statement.

Dalrrd and the CGA expressed its gratitude to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development of Vietnam, saying a supply of South Africa’s local oranges to Vietnam was in the interest of both the Vietnamese consumer and the South African citrus grower.

Last year CGA reported export season southern African citrus growers packed 165.1 million cartons for delivery to global markets - 500 000 cartons lower than the forecast at the start of the season.

At the time Justin Chadwick, the CEO of the CGA said the slow pace in ensuring wider access to key markets such as the US, India, Vietnam, Japan and Thailand, in order to absorb the increased production of fruit, posed a real risk to the citrus industry.

Citrus: World Markets and Trade analysis published by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) in January this year, global orange production for 2023/24 was forecast up slightly to 48.8 million tons as lower production in Brazil and the European Union was more than offset by larger crops in Argentina, the US and Turkey.

For South Africa, production was forecast flat at 1.6 million tons. Consumption was forecast down, returning to more typical levels as improved fruit quality was expected to increase export demand. Exports are forecast to be at a record high for the fourth year in a row.

South Africa exports oranges to more than 100 countries around the world, but the European Union was expected to remain the largest market with approximately 30% market share, reads the USDA publication.

Last month, South African total agricultural exports reached a new record of $13.2 billion last year, up 3% from the previous year, surprising on the upside, according to data from Trade Map, a provider of world trade data.

This was stronger than expected with modest export activity predicted this year despite numerous challenges at the ports and various export markets.

The products that dominated the export list were citrus, maize, apples and pears, nuts, wine, soybeans, sugar, wool, grapes, berries, avocados and fruit juices.