Friday, November 18, 2016

Turkish citrus farmers learn from the best

In November 2016 a delegation of 10 citrus export farmers and Bayer dealers / agents from Turkey visited South Africa.

The tour was arranged by Bayer Turkey as part of a farmer / dealer incentive program. The focus was to expose the Turkish delegation to a leading global citrus export producer. South Africa was an excellent choice, being the second biggest citrus exporter globally, exporting approximately 2 million tons in 2015.

Turkey produces more citrus than South Africa; however, they are trailing on the export scene due to a large part of their production consumed locally. One key objective for Turkish citrus farmers is to unlock new export markets, with Europe as main focus. Exporting to Europe is, however, a difficult challenge due to stringent GLOBALGAP requirements – an area where South Africa is clearly an expert, exporting for more than 5 decades.

Insuring both export countries gain maximum exposure a Future Forum was arranged in Groblersdal. This set the scene for farmers, dealers, agents and technical representatives of both countries to discuss key aspects relevant in the production and export of all citrus. Klaus Eckstein, CEO Bayer and Country Divisional Head Crop Science Southern Africa, facilitated the forum.

Key aspects discussed were cultivar selections, yield and quality parameters and market access, especially into Europe. The language gap complicated matters slightly but in the end the knowledge transfer benefited all delegates.

In-depth discussions were continued with a visit to Schoonbee Landgoed, where Bayer in cooperation with the farmer, initiated a Forward Farm. The focus of this project is determining the best commercial program for the control of citrus red scale. Emphasis is also being placed on beneficial insects and avoiding repercussion pests for example mealy bug.

The tour continued onwards with a visit to the CRI in Nelspruit. Here, again, the South African citrus industry showed it’s capable, world class status with an established institution that insures South Africa remains a leader through research on a global playing field.

Finally, a visit to the Kruger National Park as well as Bosveld Sitrus / Golden Frontier Citrus, South Africa’s largest single producer and exporter of citrus, rounded the tour off.

This initiative set the platform for two great citrus producing and exporting countries to exchange valuable knowledge.

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