The South African Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) engage with trading partners on behalf of the fresh produce industries in order to
(i) gain access to new markets or
(ii) achieve better access to existing markets.
In both cases phytosanitary (pest and disease) requirements in the country of import plays a major role in the type of access that can be achieved. Where phytosanitary concerns exist, specific bilateral agreements (or protocols) are developed and agreed between South Africa and the trading country.
These agreements usually contain requirements for the mitigation of phytosanitary risks through the use of good agricultural practices (GAPs) as well as scientifically based cold disinfestation treatments targeting the specific pest(s) or disease(es). Upon signing of these agreements, such markets are then referred to as ‘Special Markets’ and the associated shipments are referred to as ‘Special Shipments’ (or ‘steri’ shipments). Each special market has its own set of requirements that must at all times be adhered to.