Zim in line to reap big from China citrus market
ZIMBABWE’S citrus producers stand to benefit from the massive Chinese market following the conclusion of the Citrus Export Agreement (CEA) with Asia’s largest economy, says the Competition and Tariff Commission (CTC).
Signed in 2015, the agreement was largely designed to secure a ready export market for citrus produce for smallholder growers under the Shashi Irrigation Scheme in Bindura.
The agreement smoothens the movement of first-order shipments from registered companies that have met stipulated compliance requirements.
Zimbabwe’s fresh and dried citrus exports reached an eight-year high of US$33,8 million in 2022, from less than US$5 million in 2015, and tapping into the Chinese market provides an excellent opportunity to further stimulate the shipments.
In 2021,citrus fruit production in Zimbabwe was 138 264 tonnes.
Of that output, Zimbabwe exported 57 283 tonnes to the United Kingdom (UK), Netherlands, Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong in Asia, United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Zambia.
Apart from their health benefits to human consumption, citrus products have another essential utility given their medicinal values such as in the production of insecticides, cosmetic and soap industries.
According to the World Bank, Zimbabwe’s citrus exports have been growing at an annual rate of 2,89 percent since 2015, with the highest export value recorded in 2022.
South Africa, Egypt, Australia, the United States of America (USA), and Spain with regard to the Chinese citrus market.
In 2022, South Africa topped the fresh and dried oranges suppliers list to the Chinese market deliveri ng products worth US$117,499 followed by Egypt at US$36,181, Australia (US$35,564), USA (US$30,137) while Spain supplied US$7,942.
Zimbabwe is primed to benefit immensely from the Chinese citrus fruit market if the opportunity is taken up seriously,particularly after a dip in China’s citrus imports given the unprecedented rise in freight and labor costs attributable to Covid-19 pandemic.
Although the Chinese market presents 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 of products to meet international standards.