Sweet news for citrus growers as China meetings bear fruit

A Zimbabwean delegation to China in December 2017 facilitated agreements that could see Zimbabwean oranges hitting Chinese supermarket shelves as early as June this year.

The delegation was pleased by the readiness of Chinese buyers to purchase 45,000 tonnes of Zimbabwean oranges annually. The trip followed an inward mission from China that approved the quality of Zimbabwean oranges for the Chinese market.

The four-member delegation was led by Mr Ringson Chitsiko, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture and Rural Settlement, and included representatives from the Office of the President and Cabinet, Ministry of Lands, Agriculture and Rural Settlement as well as ZimTrade.

The trip was facilitated by the Chinese Embassy in Zimbabwe and the China Industrial International Group Zimbabwe (CIIGZ), which supports local businesses to access China’s US$23 trillion economy – the largest nominal economy in the world.

According to Trade Map, China spent US$242 million importing citrus in 2016, a 45% increase from 2012. These figures and the fact that we have different harvesting seasons to China and other potential citrus buyers should prompt Zimbabwe to develop a deliberate strategy to increase citrus production.

ZimTrade Regional Manager, Mr Similo Nkala, who was part of the delegation said that that the market value of 45 000 tonnes is in the region of US$18 million – which presents an opportunity for local growers to increase their production.

“The 45 000 tonne order is more than what Zimbabwe’s citrus producers have managed to export for all citrus fruit combined, in any year previously. Part of our mission was to visit citrus farms, seedling producers and processing centres to learn best practice in the citrus value chain.  The Ministry of Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement and ZimTrade will share relevant information with players in the industry to assist in boosting local production,” said Nkala.

The tours included a visit to China’s biggest citrus packing plant where 12 tonnes of oranges are packed every hour. Visits were also made to processing plants, and the delegation was impressed by the value additions being made in China, with processed fruit delivering not just juice, but oils from the rind with uses in skincare products, flavourants and washing powder.

A Chinese seedling grower that produces 3.2 million citrus seedlings per annum was also engaged, and expressed a willingness to supply Zimbabwean farmers with seedlings to help scale up the country’s production.

The delegation to China also noted that China imports orange concentrates from the USA, and there is scope for Zimbabwean processors to supply some of this market too.

In 2017, ZimTrade and PUM experts engaged citrus farmers in Beitbridge to identify their needs for technical intervention programmes. These are currently under development.

Publish Date: Thursday 25 January 2018



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