Citrus growers in Limpopo and Mpumalanga have been diverting their export fruit to other ports across the country, due to challenges at the port in Durban caused by unrest and looting in KwaZulu-Natal last week.
Usually about 55% of SA's citrus exports go via the port in Durban. Currently citrus exports are continuing from the Cape Town and Coega ports.
The Citrus Growers Association (CGA) said in a statement on Monday that the whole citrus value chain had been impacted by the unrest in KZN and Gauteng. Despite the challenges, the association says it will ensure that the citrus reach key export markets.
"Last week saw little impact on volumes of citrus being exported to markets including the European Union, Middle East, China and the US," the CGA said.
In order to ensure the full recovery of the value chain in KZN, the CGA has been engaging stakeholders in the public and private sector on a daily basis.
"With calm having been restored in most areas in KZN, the Durban port and arterial routes and railways to the port have reopened. All citrus fruit cold storage facilities in the province are also fully secured and operational," said the CGA. Shipping delays are, however, expected due to bottle-necks caused by last week's shutdown of the Durban port. This could have a knock-on effect at ports in the Eastern and Western Cape.
The association is calling for SA National Defence Force troops to continue to patrol the N2 and N3 corridors, the Durban port and other key value chain locations to ensure the safety of trucks transporting the citrus.
With food shortages still posing an immediate threat in a number of areas in KwaZulu-Natal, the citrus industry is also engaging with government to see where it can deliver food to communities impacted by the unrest.