THE Ministry of Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement in conjunction with ZimTrade has managed to facilitate agreements which will enable local farmers to export more than 40 000 tonnes of oranges annually to the Chinese market as early as June.
In a statement, ZimTrade said a four-member delegation which comprised representatives from the Office of the President and Cabinet, ZimTrade and was led by Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement Mr Ringson Chitsiko sealed the deals in December last 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 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,” said ZimTrade.
ZimTrade Matabeleland regional manager, Mr Similo Nkala, who was part of the delegation said the market value of 45 000 tonnes is in the region of US$18 million — which presents an opportunity for local growers to increase 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.
According to Trade Map, China spent US$242 million importing citrus in 2016, a 45 percent increase from 2012. These figures and the fact that Zimbabwe has different harvesting seasons to China and other potential citrus buyers should prompt the country to develop a deliberate strategy to increase citrus production.
During the tour, the delegation also visited 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 noted that it 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.
ZimTrade added that a large scale Chinese seedling producer is willing to support Zimbabwean farmers with seedlings.
“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,” said ZimTrade.