The Herald

Citrus trade protocol bears fruit…12 containers from Zim reach China

ARDAS Mashonaland Central provincial director Mr Nhamo Mudada added that weeds were a significant component of the biotic constraints to agricultural production. 

Edgar Vhera Agriculture Specialist Writer

CITRUS exports to China have started with 12 containers of oranges successfully landing in China while 34 are still in transit as the Zimbabwe-China citrus trade protocol signed last year gets actualised.

Plant Quarantine Services Institute (PQSI) head Mr Nhamo Mudada yesterday 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. To date we have issued phytosanitary certificates to export 46 containers of oranges to China with each container averaging 24 tonnes,” the PQSI boss said.

Mr Mudada said 12 of the containers were already in China while the balance of 34 was in transit.

He 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.

The Department of Research and Specialist Services (DR&SS) chief director Dr Dumisani Kutywayo said the country was happy with the development as this was testimony of the country’s thrust to improve earnings from the horticulture sector to increase foreign currency generation and propel the country’s Vision 2030 objective of a prosperous and empowered upper-middle income society.

The country is still exploring the option of using the shorter Port of Beira route with the Horticultural Development Council (HDC) chief executive officer Mrs Linda Nielsen recently revealing that Port of Beira currently had no approved cold sterilisation facilities that are required by the Chinese market.

Mrs Nielsen said the country had successfully exported 15 containers of lemons to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) from the port of Beira since the start of the season.

“A major milestone was the export of a consignment of 15 containers to Jebel Ali (UAE) through Beira, the first such export in 25 years. This has allowed proof of concept through Beira for lemons to the Middle Eastern market as lemons do not require cold sterilisation. Zimbabwe can only consider this as a new route to market for the European Union (EU) and China once there has been significant investment in cold storage facilities, as other citrus products have very strict cold-sterilisation requirements for these markets,” Mrs Nielsen said.

Zimbabwe and China last year signed a citrus trade protocol that was initiated in 2015 for the export of oranges for smallholder growers under the Shashi irrigation scheme.

The fresh citrus products to be exported to China from Zimbabwe include sweet orange (Citrus sinensis), mandarin orange (Citrus reticulata), grapefruit (Citrus paradisi), lemon (Citrus limon and aurantifolia) and sour orange (Citrus aurantium). The General Administration of Customs of China also released a list of registered Zimbabwean orchards and packhouses for fresh citrus exports to the Asian giant.

The opening of the Chinese market has also given the country the option to use the Mozambican port of Beira if cold sterilisation conditions are met and significant volumes are produced.

Current citrus exports to China are going via the port of Durban as cold sterilisation standards at the Beira Port are not in conformity with the Zimbabwe-China citrus trade protocol.