Spat with EU over fungus leaves sour taste for South African citrus industry
The South African citrus industry has taken yet another hit, having seen its exports of organic lemons to the European Union (EU) trading bloc suspended following a fallout over the discovery of a number of lemons affected with citrus black spot.
The EU Envoy to the Citrus Growers Association (CGA) Deon Joubert said: “Today’s decision to ring-fence the commodity and remove any possible risk stemming from it was not an easy one. Moreover, it comes with a hefty price tag and financial loss for organic lemon growers.”
He added that the industry watchdog took the decision after the spot was detected in three consignments of organic South African lemons.
In 2011, the CGA reported that the South African citrus industry had a total gross value of production of nearly 7 billion rand.
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Black spot is a fungal affliction which affects fruit quality and quantity; since no variety is resistant to the malaise, strict control measures are required to limit its spread.
The South African citrus industry has previously been involved in intensive negotiations, especially with the EU, over the citrus black spot. The ban has forced growers to focus on exporting to less scrupulous markets in the Middle East and south-east Asia.
Although more stringent control measures have been introduced by the South African citrus industry, including testing and risk management measures, no deal has been reached with EU counterparts as yet.
Joubert was, however confident that an agreement could be reached between the two parties, he said: “The CGA, together with its partners in the government, remain committed to working with the EU towards a long-term resolution.”
While it is a credit to the South African citrus farming industry that its crops (usually) meet with the exacting standards of the EU, it is clear that there is still much work to be done on both sides. Similar to the nation's recent spat with the American poultry industry over AGOA, cooperation and compromise must be achieved through mutual recognition.
5 minutes with... Janthana Kaenprakhamroy, CEO, Tapoly
Founder and CEO of award-winning insurtech firm Tapoly, Janthana Kaenprakhamroy heads up Europe’s first on-demand insurance platform for the gig economy, winning industry awards, innovating in the digital insurance space, and leading with inclusivity.
Here, Business Chief talks to Janthana about her leadership style and skills.
What do you do, in a nutshell?
I’m founder and CEO of Tapoly, a digital MGA providing a full stack of commercial lines insurance specifically for SMEs and freelancers, as well as a SaaS solution to connect insurers with their distribution partners. We build bespoke, end-to-end platforms encompassing the whole customer journey, but can also integrate our APIs within existing systems. We were proud to win Insurance Provider of the Year at the British Small Business Awards 2018 and receive silver in the Insurtech category at the Efma & Accenture Innovation in Insurance Awards 2019.
How would you describe your leadership style?
I try to be as inclusive a leader as possible. I’m committed to creating space for everyone to shine. Many of the roles at Tapoly are performed by women and I speak at industry events to encourage more people to get involved in insurance/insurtech. Similarly, I always try to maintain a growth mindset. I think it’s important to retain values to support learning and development, like reliability, working hard and punctuality.
What’s the best leadership advice you’ve received?
Build your network and seek advice. As a leader, you need smart people around you to help you grow your business. It’s not about personally being the best, but being able to find resources and get help where needed.
How do you see leadership changing in a COVID world?
I think the pandemic has proven the importance of inclusive leadership so that everyone feels supported and valued. It’s also shown the importance of being flexible as a leader. We’ve had to remain adaptable to continue delivering high levels of customer service. This flexibility has also been important when supporting employees as everyone has had individual pressures to deal with during this time. Leaders should continue to embed this flexibility within their organisations moving forward.
They say ‘from every crisis comes opportunity’, what opportunities do you see?
The past year has been challenging, but it has also proven the importance of digital transformation in insurance. When working from home was required, it was much harder for insurers to adjust who had not embedded technology within their operating processes because they did not have data stored in the cloud and it caused communication delays with concerned customers at a time when this communication should have been a priority, which ultimately impacts the level of customer satisfaction. This demonstrates the importance of what we are trying to achieve at Tapoly in driving digitalisation in insurance and making communication between insurers and distribution partners seamless.
What advice would you give to your younger self just starting out in the industry?
Start sooner, don’t be afraid to take (calculated) risks and make sure you raise enough money to get you through the initial seed stage.