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Planning helps citrus industry overcome drought

By Athenkosi Sawutana

While drought gripped parts of South Africa, citrus production still blossomed, said Antoinette Nel, administration manager of production at Mouton Citrus.

‘The drought did not have a big effect on our production as our water use plan was carefully and scientifically managed,” she said.

This comes despite the speculations made by the Global Agricultural Information Network (GAIN) in December 2017. The network said that the low water rainfall in the Western Cape would restrict the availability of irrigation.  According to the network, the unfavourable conditions would constrain the production of oranges and lemons.

Nel explained that proper planning helped the farmers rise above the challenges.

“We put in place strategic plans five years ago that helped us use water more efficiently,” said Nel.

“We made changes mainly on how we irrigate and manage water wastage,” she added.

Nel continued to say even though there may be a 5% decrease in navel variety due to high temperatures, their citrus is doing well, with soft citrus being high in demand.

She said that the company’s production grew by 5% compared to last year.

As estimated by GAIN, shortage in water supply would not have any effect on exports. The network reported that South Africa’s citrus exports to the United States will continue to grow because of the market access through the African Growth Opportunity Act (AGOA).

“We have fixed customers overseas and we supply according to what can be produced,” concluded Nel.

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