ZIMBABWE – Zimbabwe’s first citrus fruit consignment to China reached 1500 tons with upscaling strategies established to further capitalize on this new export corridor according to the Agriculture and Marketing Authority (AMA).

This development comes a year after Zimbabwe and China signed a citrus protocol granting Zimbabwean companies access to export citrus to China, Zimbabwe’s top export destination.

According to AMA, although the Chinese markets present a huge opportunity for Zimbabwe’s citrus exports, the country faces stiff competition from other African markets, hence the need to invest more in enhancing quality and competitiveness to meet international standards.

Speaking during a press conference on achievements and challenges faced in the 2023 season, AMA chief executive Mr. Clever Isaya said their organization worked with certified orchards to capitalize on this new export corridor.

“The approval of a citrus trade protocol between Zimbabwe and China in 2022 created a lot of exciting opportunities for our farmers locally within the citrus value chain,” said Isaya.

“As a country, we have certified orchards already that are going to capitalize on this new export corridor and the ongoing work is to capacity-build farmers to grow for export,” he said.

Given the strategic market for their produce in China, AMA is currently discussing several other citrus varieties with farmers to optimize the conditions under which they can export.

According to AFA, Zimbabwe, which has a total of 4,000 hectares of land under citrus, has a favorable climate to produce citrus.

According to Zimbabwe’s Plant Quarantine Services Institute (PQSI), the first consignment began with 46 containers.

According to a report by the publication Produce Report, the first consignment was handled through the port of Durban in South Africa.

However, there are plans to shift to the port of Beira in Mozambique, which offers a shorter route and faster transit time.

“The pilot phase of the citrus exports to China began in August with containers of oranges from the Beit-bridge area being shipped via the Port of Durban,” said PQSI head, Nhamo Mudada.

To date we have issued phytosanitary certificates to export 46 containers of oranges to China with each container averaging 24 tons,”

Meanwhile, the Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency reports that the country’s export volume has risen by 46% since 2017, hitting 70 000-metric tons last year.

Zimbabwean fresh citrus fruits permitted for export to China include sweet oranges (Citrus sinensis), mandarins (Citrus reticulata), grapefruit (Citrus paradisi), lemons (Citrus limon), limes (Citrus aurantifolia), and bitter oranges (Citrus aurantium).

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