South African citrus growers could take $45m hit after weather damage

Citrus farmers in the Sundays River Valley, Eastern Cape, are set to lose up to $45,326,526, as half of their navel production has been lost due to abnormal weather patterns.

Initial reports from farmers indicated that 40 percent of the navels were dropping from trees with the skin split, making it impossible to export them.

But Sundays River Citrus Company (SRCC) managing director Hannes de Waal said updated figures showed 50 percent the orange variant had gone to waste.

“Navels are especially popular for export because they are available at a time when other oranges are not in season,” De Waal said.

“But now, thanks to this natural phenomenon, we will lose half the harvest at a cost of between R400-million and R600-million to the local farmers.”

De Waal estimates the amount could run close to R1-billion if the entire supply chain is taken into account.

De Waal said farmers in the Sundays River Valley should recover as long as the same phenomenon was not repeated next year, and they were not overly concerned about a second occurrence.


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