Zimbabwe to start citrus fruit exports to China

HARARE, Sept. 29 (Xinhua) -- Zimbabwe is finalizing preparations to start fresh citrus exports to China, following virtual inspections done by the General Administration of Customs of China (GACC) last month, a senior government official said Thursday.

John Bhasera, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development, told Xinhua that following the inspections, Zimbabwe is now finalizing its post-inspection report for submission to China in the next few days.

"Zimbabwe is finalizing preparations to export citrus fruits to China by clarifying queries arising from the virtual inspections done by China's General Administration of Customs (GACC) in August," Bhasera said.

He said some of the queries related to the use of orchard numbers as opposed to production unit code to improve traceability, strengthening pest and disease management in the field and at pack houses to minimize infestation of harvested citrus, and clarifying the cold treatment of citrus destined for China.

He said for the time being, Zimbabwe intends to sell oranges, lemons and grapefruits to China. Zimbabwe has the advantage of good natural conditions that are beneficial for producing cheap, sweet and juicy citrus.

The country's marketing period is also different from the domestic citrus market in China, which can meet a certain demand in the Chinese market.

Zimbabwe's trade promotion body, ZimTrade, has since welcomed the move by China to allow imports of Zimbabwean citrus fruits, saying this will help Zimbabwe diversify its export markets.

The Zimbabwean government is currently working on scaling up horticulture production to meet the growing demand for citrus fruits worldwide. Early this month, Zimbabwean Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube launched a 30 million U.S. dollars horticulture export revolving fund to help farmers boost production.

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