The South African citrus season in underway with an estimated record export of 143.3 million cartons, an increase of 13% on last season.
According to Justin Chadwick CEO of the Citrus Grower's Association, 2 million cartons of lemons have already been exported, a figure way ahead that of last season. "We have seen early maturing of the lemon crop this year and also a big pull from the market. They are being shipped to all markets and demand is high due to the spread of the coronavirus as people are stocking up."
Small amounts of grapefruit have been shipped as well as some soft citrus.
"As far I know all the trade lines are open and I haven't head of any disruption, really everything is pretty much as normal so far."
South Africa will go into full lockdown at from midnight on Thursday, March 26 until midnight on Thursday, April 16, and all South Africans will have to stay at home.
"The Food and Agriculture sector are classed as essential and as so will continue to operate, our workers can still go to work, our product will still move, but with high regard to hygiene and the health and safety of the workers.The lockdown is for a purpose and we understand that, and need to make sure that they can continue working and can do so in an environment where they are not going to be exposed. I think most of the packers will practice social distancing, so possibly every second packing point will be manned, they will look at what is practical."
People still seem very keen to work, according to Justin, people were gathering at one packhouse to get jobs and as gatherings of more than 100 people are banned the police were called, but the people said they would rather get arrested than have no work.
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