ZIMBABWE – Zimbabwe has unveiled plans of exporting citrus products to China as part of the government’s efforts to increase investments in the value chain at a global scale.

Dr Sibusiso Moyo, Foreign Affairs and International Trade Minister, says that the “processes are almost being concluded and we are hoping that there is going to be an agreement soon.”

According to Dr Moyo, the development followed deliberations between the Government of Zimbabwe and Chinese Vice Minister of Commerce during his recent state visit from which it was agreed that the two countries can explore other areas of cooperation with immediate benefits while waiting for bigger projects to take off.

“It is from that approach that we agreed to have pragmatic projects that are going to be taking place,” said Dr Moyo.

Chinese Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Guo Shaochun, affirmed that the success of the project will also mark a new beginning in cooperation between China and Zimbabwe in the agricultural sector.

“We are going to enlarge the agriculture products export from Zimbabwe and hopefully we will be able to import citrus from Zimbabwe to the Chinese market in the near future.

“We are still going through some procedures and both China and Zimbabwean side are speeding up all the necessary procedures,” Ambassador Guo added.

Currently, Zimbabwe is exporting about 30 000 tonnes of citrus fruits, mainly to the European Union and the Middle East markets.

According to the Citrus Export Growers Association, the sector has a high growth potential with the projection set at around 5 percent.

Currently, several African countries have access to the Chinese fruit market which include Egypt, South Africa and Kenya.

South Africa, for instance, exported 222,498 tons of fresh fruit valued at US$232.19 million to China last year.

Apart from being among the leading citrus importing countries, China is also an exporter with data from Chinese customs data indicating that the country exported 919,000 tons of citrus fruit worth $1.24 billion in 2017.

While the growth of China’s citrus imports has been driven by a number of factors, from improved market access conditions to growing consumer demand, a shorter domestic citrus crop in China has also been identified as a leading cause.