Citrus Farmers Could Benefit from Deficit in Supply to US


The island’s citrus farmers are being encouraged to replant their orchards, to benefit from a deficit in the supply of orange juice to the United States.
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Citrus Growers Association (CGA), Paul Miller, told JIS News that because of the withdrawal of several suppliers from Brazil and Florida, due to disease or a shift in focus, the US market is facing a supply deficit of 200 million boxes.
According to Mr. Miller, citrus production in Florida and Brazil is being threatened by diseases such as tristeza, canker, the pink mealy bug and citrus greening, which have significantly reduced production levels, with the numbers “coming down from 270 to 130 million boxes (in Florida) and in Brazil, from 400 to 300 million boxes.”
In Florida, he explained, the re-planting process is proving to be costly, due to the pressure for land to meet residential and resort demands, while in Brazil, the planting of sugarcane to meet the demand for ethanol, has reduce the availability of land for the replanting of citrus.
“When a farmer finds his citrus orchard affected by disease, rather than struggle with replanting, he simply takes it out and replaces it with cane,” Mr. Miller pointed out.
Encouraging local farmers to increase citrus production, he noted that the industry is capable of producing some eight million boxes. Production now stands at 3.8 million boxes. “If we double our production or triple our production, we have a market for that,” he stated.
Mr. Miller pointed out that, “even if the market were to be frozen, there is still a gap of 20 million boxes to be filled and Eastern Europe and Central Europe are making demands for citrus so there is an even bigger market, keeping the future rosy.”

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