The citrus industry is the second largest earner of foreign exchange through South African agricultural exports. The industry generates R3 billion per annum and exports 54 percent of total production, making it the third largest exporter of citrus in the world after Spain and the USA. The industry is made up of 1,300 export farmers and 2,200 small farmers, employing over 10 000 people, supporting roughly 600,000 dependents.
Citrus is produced in various areas in South Africa, including around an area surrounding The Baviaanskloof Mega-reserve in the Eastern Cape. This reserve has been awarded World Heritage Site status, due to its outstanding natural beauty, spectacular landforms and diverse array of plants and animals.
The Mega-reserve strives to conserve 12 vegetation types, representing seven of South Africa’s nine biomes. In recent years, significant citrus expansion in the Baviaanskloof is posing a threat to the region’s phenomenal biodiversity. Erosion from ploughing high up on sloped land and alien invasive in river banks add to the problem. In response to this threat, Green Choice and partners in the citrus industry in the Gamtoos River Valley are managing the Biodiversity Citrus Initiative (BCI), established in 2009.