CAPE TOWN – South African consumers can look forward to a steady supply of avocados throughout the year, provided an agreement pertaining to avoiding produce pests and diseases is reached between Tanzania and South Africa.
The bulk of South Africa’s avocado season occurs between mid-February to late October each year, whereas the avocado off-season falls between November and January, CEO of the South African Avocado Growers’ Association (SAAGA) Derek Donkin told African News Agency (ANA) on Friday.
“(Tanzania’s avocados) are ready to pick a little bit before ours, so they see it as an opportunity to supply the South African market during that time,” Donkin said.
Donkin said South Africa does import some avocados from countries such as Spain, however the costs involved are much higher as opposed to importing from Tanzania.
Local Kenyan news publication The EastAfrican reported on Tuesday that SAAGA has been pushing to resolve a pest infestation scare relating to Tanzania’s Hass and Fuerte avocados which have subsequently They added that Tanzania’s avocados are expected to be available in the South African market by December.
However, Donkin responded, “At the moment they (Tanzania) can’t bring them (avocados) to the country because (of) what they call the phytosanitary agreement – the agreement between the two countries with regards to managing of pests and diseases – that first needs to be signed before they can be brought into the country (South Africa)”.
Furthermore, SAAGA cannot drive a government-to-government process, he said.
Donkin therefore could not confirm whether Tanzania’s avocados are expected to be available to the South African market by December.
According to Oxfam Organic, a Kenyan company that grows a number of produce including avocados, Fuerte avocados are susceptible to a number of pests that include scale insects, false codling moths, thrips, fruit flies, spider mites and wasps.
They are also susceptible to diseases like cercospora fruit spot, scab, anthracnose and root rot.
African News Agency (ANA); Editing by Yaron Blecher