Worth an estimated R30 billion rands in 2021, South Africa’s export citrus industry has become the second largest in the world. It exports to predominantly European markets and is a significant employer of labour. In a recent news article, South Africa’s Citrus Growers Association (CGA) estimated that through the jobs and opportunities it creates, it provides a livelihood for an estimated 1.4 million people.
However, recent amendments to storage regulations for South Africa and other African nations are set to have a far-reaching, negative impact on the sector. The new measures are aimed at controlling the spread of false codling moth – a polyphagous pest that is native to Southern Africa that attacks citrus fruit.
Recently, over 2000 cartons of citrus valued at over R500 million were blocked from entering their countries of destination as the European Union (EU) enforced new cold treatment requirements. The stand-off between South African exporters and EU port officials continued for weeks before they came to an interim agreement that allowed the release of the consignments into European markets. This resulted in significant losses. Beyond this specific incident, the new measures are set to significantly reduce citrus growers’ profits due to the high costs of compliance.
The incident has added to the many challenges that have plagued the sector in recent years. These include non-standardization leading to the rejection of entire consignments, damaged or lost fresh produce bins, poor temperature control performance measures as well as produce from areas that are not approved.
One of the major ways in which this can be addressed is through the widespread adoption of technology. Through several IoT-based innovations, farmers employ technology to not only improve crop quality and yields but also across the entire value chain.
Smart monitoring IoT systems track and monitor the produce using smart bins as it is picked at the farm and tracks drivers and tractors as the produce is transported. Once at the packhouse, the system analyses time lapses between delivery and processing as well as monitors warehouse storage periods. As it moves to the port, the road freight system manages onboard temperature and humidity, carries out incident management and theft control.
Finally, cold storage temperature and humidity control ensure that the consignment remains at the required temperature for the rest of its journey. The chilling of the produce guarantees that it meets the requirements, lowering the risk of non-compliance and eliminating severalother logistical issues.
The citrus industry is a major contributor to our economy, and addressing these challenges is critical to ensuring that it continues to thrive, and that South Africa remains a reliable import partner to the markets it has established and that it maintains its share of the citrus export market.
As many nations continue to recover from the effects of the Covid pandemic, the goal that unites us should be promoting economic and social sustainability. Through its sustainable development goals (SDGs) the United Nations has provided a guideline to follow as we engage with each other as nations as well as political and business leaders and policy makers within our countries.
In particular, the United Nations SDG no 8 deals with poverty alleviation and the provision of employment opportunities, while SDG 12 looks at responsible consumption and production.As a contributor to the local IoT industry, Macrocomm supports the attainment of these goals.
Through our sustainability centered IoT solutions, and with our understanding of the unique challenges that face our country, we employ technology to develop pertinent solutions to a myriad of issues. Macrocomm Smart Fresh Produce Monitoring System is one such solution and was designed with the specific needs of our citrus market in mind.
Macrocomm is a premier innovation and technology agnostic led provider of data driven digital solutions. Our solutions are not just focused of connectivity and technology, but they aim to solve societal problems in a Smart Made Simple way. The Macrocomm group of companies play across all stages in the digital value chain including devices, connectivity, platforms, application and software development, systems integration and training and development. This enables us to innovate across the digital value chain to deliver bespoke as well as generic solutions in a manner that leverages both scope and scale. We service a range of verticals including municipalities, fleet, agriculture, facilities management, health, mining, retail, and logistics. Our key partners include Vodacom, Sigfox, University of Stellenbosch, Orange, MTN, Bosch, Cell C, Unabiz, and BCX.