Ailimpo Calls On The European Commission To Tighten Requiriments For South African Lemons

AILIMPO reports that in the summer of 2021, 10 batches of lemons from South Africa have been detected with Black Spot.

A record and unprecedented figure that has set off all the alarm bells in the interprofessional organisation.

Murcia, 22nd November 2021

The European Commission has confirmed through the Europhyt/Traces phytosanitary alert system that 10 batches of lemons from South Africa have been intercepted this summer infected with Black Spot, a dreaded disease that is not present in Europe.

Detections of Black Spot in lemons imported from South Africa

2017 = 4
2018 = 0
2019 = 3
2020 = 1
2021 = 10

This is a record figure, unprecedented, and has set off alarm bells for the interprofessional AILIMPO. Spain, as the second largest lemon producing country in the world and the leading country in fresh exports, cannot under any circumstances run the risk of South African lemons entering Europe infected with this dreaded disease. The entry of this pest from South Africa into Spanish lemon farms would mean a huge economic loss for our farmers and exporters, followed by a terrible negative impact on the employment generated by the Spanish sector.

In addition, AILIMPO points out that 3 of the 10 detections of black spot in South African lemons have been reported in the months of September and October, a period of the year that South Africa knows to be at the highest risk for this pest due to the weather conditions and ripeness of the fruit. In spite of this, South Africa sent a record volume of lemons to Europe in these two months, demonstrating that it prioritises export business over phytosanitary protection.

Specifically, AILIMPO has formulated the following proposals, which should be adopted in the coming weeks so that the new system of controls is ready before the summer of 2022:

  • Ensuring that coordination and harmonisation mechanisms are in place for border inspection services at all EU ports of entry.
  • Exchange of inspectors between Member States: Spanish inspectors in the Netherlands and Dutch inspectors in Spain, to prevent the Netherlands from being an “open and free door” for lemons with Black Spot.
  • Modification of the EU Decision, to demand greater controls at origin (field and packing) from South Africa, a higher percentage of controls in European ports, a requirement for latency analysis of all batches of lemons at origin, and a demand for more effective preventive chemical treatments in the field at origin, which must obviously be carried out with active substances authorised in the EU.
  • Finally, AILIMPO demands the automatic closure of imports when 5 CBS interceptions are reached for the citrus category