South Africa fresh produce exports to neighbouring countries has been severely affected lack of foreign buyers, traders have disclosed.
South Africa is the only apple producer in the Sub-Sahara region and major source of citrus fruits. But with trade with neighbouring Swaziland, Mozambique and Zambia halted, this has significantly affected South Africa’s fresh produce market
Traders at the Johannesburg fresh produce market disclose that sales are down by half to buyers in neighbouring countries.
Media reports indicate that Lusaka fruit traders are finding it difficult to replenish stock, with orange and banana prices swiftly rising.
South Africa’s sales of staple vegetables like potatoes, onions, tomatoes are much stronger than fruit.
The situation is similar but not of the same scale in Kenya where sales of cut flowers in overseas markets has been below 35 per cent in the past month as shutdowns in Europe, the country’s main markets, persist. While there has been a recovery in demand in the past few weeks, the available freight capacity cannot cope with the rise in volumes.
With a freight capacity of 5,000 tonnes per week, this has been cut to 1,300 tonnes for all commodities- flowers, fish, vegetables. Demand for exports of these fresh produce stands at 3,500 tonnes per week.
Flights were cancelled in early March after exporters stopped shipping activities, following a full blown outbreak of COVID19.
Airlines have thus increased freight charges from Nairobi to most market destinations, increasing costs to exporters who are now unable to service their orders.