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The Citrus Growers Association of Southern Africa is looking at moving away from Durban to Cape Town as the export point for the country’s citrus, Landbouweekblad reports today.

The main obstacle for the smooth running of affairs at Durban is the maintenance of infrastructure (or lack thereof). It is no good that attention is given to it only once infrastructure breaks. Incomplete or broken electrical points, for example, are a challenge for the coldchain, and harbour cranes’ functionality are a source of frustration.

Other frustrations include:

  • In July through to September, the busiest time for citrus exporting, a harbour needs to serve 2 500 freight trucks, not the current 2 000.
  • Freight trucks wait up to five hours just to get through the harbour gate. Furthermore, this congestion is discouraging transport agents from accepting produce destined for Durban harbour.
  • The globally accepted turnover time (from when a truck enters the harbour until when it departs) is 90 minutes. It regularly takes trucks up to 12 hours in Durban.

Increasingly, ships are reluctant to dock here and the harbour is losing business.

Although Maputo (Mozambique) and Coega (Eastern Cape) are in contention, it is the efficacy and capacity of the Cape Town harbour that makes it attractive for the citrus sector. And most citrus exports happen at the time of the year when apple and pear ones are dropping off.

In an article “South African ports need revamp to sustain agriculture exports”, Wandile Sihlobo, the Agricultural Business Chamber (Agbiz)’s chief economist, set out the case for having fully functional harbours. And Theo Vorster, also of Agbiz, made this one of three points to having the dreams of the State of the Nation (SONA) come to fruition.

We know what needs doing. How do we get there?

Read the Afrikaans article by Johan van der Merwe and Carien Kruger at

Citrus fruit and Exporting are two of some 180 topics covered on Agribook.Digital.

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