Pre-season workshops improve technology transfer

CONTACT DETAILS: +27 83 325 8379 /
Duration: Ongoing
LEAD INSTITUTION: Citrus Cold Chain Forum
BENEFICIARY: The citrus industry

Before deregulation, Outspan handled the marketing of all citrus fruit and supplied a dedicated extension service. Research and technical needs were seen to. Fruit was packed for local and export markets according to industry guidelines, protocols and minimum standards. After deregulation, Citrus Research International (CRI) became the coordinator of research and technology, with the support of the Citrus Growers’ Association (CGA) and its levy. Market access was the main priority and post-harvest coordination was not assigned to anyone. It created a huge gap that caused problems with quality and subsequent financial losses.

The Citrus Cold Chain Forum

Requests from the Citrus Marketing Forum and other industry groups underlined the urgent need for proper cold chain coordination. In response, the Citrus Cold Chain Forum (CCCF) was established in 2007 with Hannes Bester as chairperson. It is an umbrella organisation, housed under the Extension Department within the CRI. Hannes Bester is the area extension manager of the southern production areas, whilst Dr Hennie le Roux, as extension manager of CRI, fulfils the same duties in the northern production regions.

Technical cold chain challenges are collectively addressed by four main CCCF membership groupings:

  • the Packaging Working Group (led by Dawid Groenewald of SAPPI);
  • the Cold Chain Research Project (coordinated by Dr Malcolm Dodd);
  • the Pack House and Logistics Handling Panel (made up of five study groups that liase with over 316 pack houses in Limpopo, Mpumalanga, the Eastern and Western Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and Swaziland); and
  • the Exporters’ Technical Panel. Hannes Bester convenes the two panels, with the involvement of the Perishable Products Export Control Board (PPECB) and other relevant role-players.

Annual pre-season pack house workshops

Before the start of each new season, pack houses need all the information they would require to ensure a successful season and the smooth running of pack house operations. Annual pre-season workshops were established to address this need for technology transfer. It is a very significant development, made possible by partial Post-Harvest Innovation Programme funding.

The workshops are scheduled for February, before the season commences.

Pack house personnel, pallet and carton manufacturers; logistics service providers, shipping lines, transporters and other relevant role-players receive the latest research findings and information on technical and other post-harvest issues like packaging, export standards and citrus rind defects. The Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF), the PPECB and wax manufacturers also attend these workshops.

Procedure and benefits to industry

  • The CCCF with all its components managed to fill the significant void in cold chain coordination, which resulted from deregulation.
  • The establishment of a Cooling Working Group, to address technical issues in the cold chain, and a Wax Committee, to set minimum standards for citrus waxes, is in the pipeline and will in future be incorporated into the CCCF structure.
  • One of the major roles of the CCCF is to facilitate post-harvest technology transfer in the citrus industry.
  • The annual pre-season workshops for pack houses greatly assist in technology transfer and became an essential element in the successful functioning of the citrus cold chain.
  • The main aim of the CCCF is to ensure sustainable exports of superior quality citrus and to minimise losses in the cold chain.