A seven-year negotiation process for Zimbabwe to export fresh citrus fruits to China ended Wednesday with senior government officials from the two countries concluding the long-winding deal.
The new contract will see Zimbabwe exporting fresh citrus fruits, which include sweet oranges, mandarin oranges, grapefruits, sour oranges, and lemons.
The deal was signed by China’s Minister for General Administration and Customs, Ni Yeufeng, and Zimbabwe’s Agriculture Minister Anxious Masuka.
The new agreement will see China lessening its reliance on fresh citrus fruits from South Africa and the European Union markets.
“We are now educating stakeholders on the requirements to export fresh fruits to China. Local stakeholders from the citrus industry have accepted the terms,” acting chief director in Zimbabwe’s Agriculture Ministry, Dumisani Kutywayo said.
The Chinese Embassy in Zimbabwe also confirmed the deal
“The sweet and juicy Zimbabwean citrus will join the Chinese market as the citrus export protocol has just been signed. We are implementing President Xi’s pledge that China will open a Green Channel for the export of African agricultural products. It’ll benefit more Zim’s farmers,” the embassy said.
Minister Masuka added: “The trade protocol will cement trade relations between the two nations and will open the door for other products that we were not even exporting, hence will lead to an increase in agricultural contribution to the export basket. For example, in Zimbabwe, producers have expressed interest in exporting blueberries and avocado pears to China,” he said.
The process started in 2015 when the Zimbabwe government approached China seeking a market for the Shashi Citrus smallholder farmers.
However, China requested post-risk assessment information for the export of fresh citrus fruits from Zimbabwe to China.
Visiting Chinese experts declared False Codling Moth and Natal flies as pests of concern and measures were put in place to improve on biosecurity.
Companies registered in Zimbabwe are now able to conclude partnerships and out-grower agreements with Chinese importers.