According to the Unió de Llauradors, between January and September of this year, the ports of the European Union have intercepted a total of 124 shipments coming from third countries with citrus fruits infested with pests and diseases. This is 17% higher than the 106 interceptions there were in all of 2018.
South Africa and Uruguay are the countries with the greatest number of interceptions in the first ten months of 2019, with 32 and 24, respectively. In the case Uruguay, it represents a 380% increase in interceptions over the last year, while interceptions from the African country increased by 88%. It's also worth noting that there were 5 citrus rejections from Zimbabwe.
Most of the imports retained with pests and diseases until October correspond to Phyllosticta citricarpa (41), the fungus that causes the dreaded black spot, and Thaumatotibia leucotreta (34), the false moth that causes serious commercial damage to citrus fruits. Both are quarantine pests and diseases that pose a serious and growing risk to the European citrus sector, as they are not present in Europe.
The agrarian organization stated that the EU authorities needed to take phytosanitary surveillance seriously and that they must consider implementing cold treatment and controls at source for citrus imports because of the risk that these pests pose for the community's citrus farming. According to the recent analyses carried out by La Unió, most of the active substances that were detected in third-country citrus products, and that European producers can't use, correspond to fungicides to preserve the fruit, which in many cases are used as an alternative to Cold treatment, which is more harmless.
La Unió also took the opportunity to request commercial distribution chains and stores to withdraw citrus fruits from South Africa and Mercosur from their stores and to replace them with Spanish citrus fruits, which are already available in the market.