Minister of Agriculture, Agrarian Reform and Rural Development, Thoko Didiza, proudly looked at a batch of 100,000 South African lemons being shipped to China. This, after signing a landmark R325 million trade deal and revised citrus protocol with partner Brics last year.
Didiza was joined by a host of actors at Maydon Wharf Fruit Terminal, Durban’s largest cold store, on Thursday February 17. She said the shipment to China signals many additional opportunities for South African farmers who are expected to increase their lemon production by another 500,000 tonnes over the next three to five years.
According to the Citrus Growers Association (CGA) the local citrus industry supports 120,000 jobs and generates at least R30 billion in export earnings each year. CGA Chief Executive Justin Chadwick said earlier: “The demand for South African produce overseas is a wonderful testament to the quality of South African citrus fruits. There is no doubt that citrus growers are investing heavily for the future. »
According to a Agbiz report Europe remains the largest export market for Mzansi citrus, generating on average 45% of South Africa’s total citrus export earnings. Asia and the Middle East accounted for 37% and North American markets for 8%. Under the revised protocol, China has relaxed cold requirements for Mzansi lemons to a minimum of three degrees Celsius for less than 18 days.
This week’s expedition to China follows President Cyril Ramaphosa’s last State of the Nation Address in which he reiterated that the agricultural sector has significant potential for job creation across a variety of crops. He singled out citrus fruits, table and raisins, subtropical fruits, avocados, berries and nuts.
Didiza said, “Improved market access for South African lemons to China under ideal temperature conditions was achieved through a revised protocol signed in September 2021. South Africa also recently signed , on December 13, 2021, a protocol with China on the export of pears. This protocol should increase the current 22% of pears that the country exports to the Far East”.
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