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Updated 23 Jun 2018

How to safeguard your fruit exports future by using less pesticide

Considering the recent destruction of imported citrus from South Africa by European Union officials, you’ll need to improve your pest management processes to prevent losing revenue. 

Nicole Crampton, 14 February 2017  Share  0 comments  Print

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If your biggest customers reside in the European Union (EU), you’ll need to tighten up control when it comes to disease and pest management in your business. Citrus black spots have raised flags amongst EU officials, and they’re keeping a closer eye on fruit imports.

However, Integrated Pest Management solutions are helping SA’s largest fruit exporters to maintain quality and guarantee turnover in these markets. So, if you’d like your revenue to remain in the black this year, and not your fruit, it might be time for you to upgrade your pest control systems and processes.

Related: Bee-killing pesticides banned


According to Tru-Cape Fruit’s marketing MD Roelf Pienaar, Tru-Cape can sell more South African produce into export markets because it’s supplied by Ceres Fruit Growers. Companies like Ceres, which invest in Integrated Pest Management solutions, are able to meet and often exceed the highest global standards of excellence when it comes to exporting as it’s focused on producing high-quality, disease and pest-free produce.

An Integrated Pest Management solution combines preventative and corrective measures to keep pests (and certain diseases) from causing damage to your fruit. It also creates minimal risk for your workers and the environment due to the reduced usage of pesticides. This strategy is flexible and dynamic, improving produce quality, enhancing employee and consumer health, and ensures the welfare of the environment.

De Kock Hamman, technical adviser at Ceres Fruit Growers says: “Our Integrated Pest Management (IPM) programme was developed as a response to the need to find ways to successfully manage pests and diseases that impact apple and pear crops in a way that has the least impact on the environment.”

Fruit -farmers -management

Here are several ways you can benefit from an Integrated Pest Management system to ensure your fruit is of the highest standard for exporting:

Replace pesticides with natural predators

“In 2011, we used between 27 and 30 active chemicals to manage pests and now we use just four or five, which are also ‘softer’ chemicals that have less impact on the environment. We also changed the way we apply chemicals by using ultra-low volume sprayers. We spray at night to avoid bees and birds and monitor temperature carefully for triggers like coddling moth outbreak, for example,” explains Hamman.

This is not only better for the environment, but allows natural predators of the pests to eradicate insects, instead of using pesticides that have a negative effect on the environment and your fruit.

Related: How to control weeds for your organic crop

Sustainable bio-based pest management alternatives

"We also apply sticky physical barriers to tree stems to prevent bugs reaching the fruit. These techniques, combined with a change in how we manage past-prime trees – chipping and mulching organic matter rather than burning it – have seen a great improvement in the management of orchards with as few chemicals as possible and requiring less water than before,” he says.

By repurposing past-prime trees you can save on costs as well as create a more environmentally friendly method of disposing of waste. Not only does this process require less chemicals, it also reduces the amount of water your orchard needs.

If you consider the benefits that Integrated Pest Management affords you, and calculate whether you can cost-effectively implement such a programme now, you can secure your business’s exports future. As global markets become more discerning about the fruits they import, and consumers grow pickier about the types of fruit they eat, you’ll have to upgrade your pest and disease management processes at some point. Start now to ensure you remain ahead of your competitors.


  • Fewer pesticides will attract the pests’ natural predators, which is why you should consider supporting the natural ecosystem in your pest management strategy.
  • Apply sticky physical barriers to keep bugs away from fruit.
  • Re-purpose past-prime trees to save on costs and reduce your impact on the environment.
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About the author

Nicole Crampton

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