Citrus exports to the EU grew 30% between September 2021 and March 2022, compared with the same period in 2020/21, amounting to about 1,7 million tons of fruit, according to a recent report in The Zimbabwe Mail.
According to the report, citrus production in the Mazowe Valley could be traced back to around 1914 with the establishment of the first commercial citrus estate in Zimbabwe. In later years (1970 to1980) commercial production began in the Chegutu area. Nowadays, citrus was also produced in the Beit Bridge, Chegutu and Mvurwi areas.
In addition, new orchards were also being established in Mashonaland and the Midlands provinces, bringing the total area planted to citrus in that country to 3 000ha.
According to zwnews.com, Zimbabwe’s Horticultural Development Council recently called on producers to increase citrus plantings to enable them to meet the expected demand from China.
Zimbabwe and China signed a protocol last year that paved the way for citrus exports to China in the near future. Zimbabwe was only the fifth African economy to receive approval for fresh fruit exports to China.
It was expected that the Chinese market could create demand for oranges, mandarins, lemons, limes and grapefruit.
Once one of Africa’s largest citrus producers, Zimbabwe was trying to regain the markets it lost after its controversial land reform programme during the 1980s, The Zimbabwe Mail said.
In addition to the increase in exports to the EU and the protocol signed with China, Zimbabwe was also pursuing new export avenues such as markets in Asia and the Middle East.
Zimbabwe exported horticulture products to the value of R1,01 billion in 2021, according to the Zimbabwean Trade Information Portal, ZimTrade.