Fruit industry bodies call for vigilance as vaccine rollout remains slow

Covid infections rapidly rise in South Africa

In South Africa the third wave of Covid infections is being acutely felt, with over 13,000 new cases in a single day and almost no business unaffected by the pandemic. It's expected to peak by the first week of July.

This is the fruit industry's second season of working in a time of pandemic, and  industry bodies Hortgro and the Citrus Growers Association have urged the industry to maintain strict Covid guidelines as infections rise.

The last apples like Pink Lady are being picked, while over 70% of grapefruit, almost half of lemons, 38% of soft citrus and 27% of navels have been packed, and Valencias just kicking off. 

Slow vaccine rollout
The vaccine rollout is much slower than in other countries, beset with difficulties such as contamination of vaccines, and many aged South Africans have not yet been vaccinated. The vaccination rate is 3.29%.

Apart from the constant of Covid, some in the citrus industry say that is where the similarity with last year's season ends.

"This is definitely not an easy year," notes a citrus exporter. "Market conditions are completely different to 2020."

The strong run by the Rand (a rally which has "astounded" economists, wrote Dynamic Outcomes) is slightly weakening to R13,82 today. Exporters would be happy to see it continuing to weaken against the Dollar; it has been eroding export earnings at a time when costs are rising.

The state electricity provider Eskom has been implementing loadshedding, exacerbated by management problems at the nuclear power station Koeberg outside Cape Town. Last week South Africa had stage 4 loadshedding for the first time since September 2020.



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