The end (of the year) is nigh!

December 2012: Challenging year comes to a close

With the month not yet over anything could happen! Indeed there is even speculation that the end of the world is imminent! It may have felt like it in the Philippines earlier this month, as twice named typhoon Pablo/Bopha wreaked havoc in the banana plantations of the Compostela Valley. Early estimates suggested the damage could reach as high as P300 million ($7,300,000 US) and that recovery could take anything between 9 months and 2 years. There were fears that the country may not be able to fulfil its export expectations to certain markets.

Californian citrus growers were gearing up to tackling the possibility of an Asian citrus psyllid infestation after findings of the pest occurred in Tulare County. Thanks to the fact that the bugs were found not to be infected with the much feared citrus greening disease, and as they were considered to be isolated events, the quarantine zone was set up to cover 5 miles around the finds. This was instead of the traditional 20 mile zone.

Measures taken in response included swift attempts to educate people of the threats posed by citrus greening and spraying within the quarantine zone.

Protests over wages were still being held by striking South African farm workers, though they were somewhat calmer than those held the previous month. Disruption still resulted, however, and there were concerns that produce was not going to make it through the supply chain and onto the shelves as a result.

There was welcome news in New Zealand as PSA was finally declared an adverse event, securing recovery support and hardship payments for affected growers. Some growers, though, said that the package was "too little, too late" and that the value of the industry meant that a bigger response was warranted.

The Indian Government secured the backing of parliament in its quest to open up the country's retail sector to foreign investment. The news was greeted with protest from some quarters, with grocery traders taking their opposition to the streets, in fear of losing their market share to international chains.

The Florida orange estimate took a hit as the USDA reduced the season's predications by a not inconsiderable 8 million boxes, equivalent to 5% of the original figures, as a result of adverse weather. The Californian estimate was unaltered.

Sticking with the US and citrus, Argentina once again took it's complaint over restrictions involving lemon imports to the Word Trade Organisation. To date there has been no resolution of the matter.

On a lighter note the British voted Golden Delicious their favourite apple and passed the 20,000 subscribers mark.

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