ZIMBABWE – The Zimbabwe-China citrus trade protocol signed in January 2022 has started bearing fruit with 12 containers of oranges successfully landing in China and 34 still in transit.

As reported by Anchor, the protocol will run for a five-year period and will see Zimbabwean farmers exporting fresh citrus varieties including sweet orange, mandarin orange, grapefruit, lemon, and sour orange. 

The agreement is expected to increase agriculture’s contribution to the export basket and improve trade relations between the two countries. 

Plant Quarantine Services Institute (PQSI) head Mr. Nhamo Mudada revealed that the current exports of citrus to China via the Port of Durban were only for oranges.

“The pilot phase of the citrus exports to China began in August with containers of oranges from the Beitbridge area being shipped via the Port of Durban,” the PQSI boss said.

The report further outlined that so far PQSI has issued phytosanitary certificates to export 46 containers of oranges to China with each container averaging 24 tons.

He further revealed that oranges and lemons were also exported to the Middle East while grapefruits and lemons were destined for Europe.

“The country is also working on adding other products in high demand in China with the blueberry protocol still in the pipeline,” Mr. Mudada said.

Citrus industry poised for robust growth

Meanwhile, the Zimbabwean citrus industry is expected to grow as the Horticulture Recovery and Growth Plan (HRGP) will increase the hectarage under citrus trees by 15,000 hectares from 3,301 hectares in 2020.

This development will see production and export figures rise with the successful roll out of the Citrus Recovery and Growth Program (CRGP) which is one of the HRGP’s key tenets.

The increase in hectarage will come at a cost of USD 1 800 per hectare including inputs while the Citrus Growers Association of Zimbabwe (CGAZ) will market the products.

Through the program, irrigation, equipment, and virus free planting material alongside good agronomic practices will be made available and accessible.

Horticultural Development Council (HDC) Chief Executive Officer Mrs. Linda Nielsen recently gave an update on lemon, oranges, grapefruit, and soft citrus production.

“Lemon production in Zimbabwe is prevalent in Mashonaland with 300ha of the fruit while Beitbridge has 170 hectares that all feed into the national figure of 500 hectares,” she divulged.

“Approximately 1,400 tons were exported in 2023 and 5,150 tons are projected for 2024. The bulk of this hectarage are new orchards that are not yet in production.”

She added that Lemon production in Zimbabwe is prevalent in Mashonaland with 300 hectares of the fruit while Beitbridge has 170 hectares that all feed into the national figure of 500 hectares.

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