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South African Lemon Export Requirements to China Relaxed

July 01, 2021

On June 18, South African Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development Thoko Didiza and Chinese Ambassador to South Africa Chen Xiaodong signed a revised protocol to relax the current regulatory requirements for cold treatment of South African lemons exported to China. The Citrus Growers’ Association of Southern Africa has indicated that once the protocol comes into force, the volume of South African exports to China is expected to surpass those of Argentina and Chile.

Under the previous deal, bilaterally signed in 2006, all South African citrus exports were required to undergo cold treatment at or below −0.6 degrees Celsius for at least 24 days to eliminate fruit flies and false codling moth. Once the new agreement is implemented, the cold treatment requirements for lemons will be modified to a minimum of 3 degrees Celsius for no less than 18 days.

While the South African citrus industry has witnessed significant growth in exports to China, its lemon exports have been stifled by the low temperature requirement specified in the former protocol, which affected lemon quality and was suboptimal for shipments. While non-lemon citrus exports from South Africa to China reached 130,000 metric tons in 2020, only 151.5 tons of lemons were exported that same year, accounting for only 0.1% of South Africa’s total citrus exports to China.

The revised citrus protocol between China and South Africa is expected to add another 325 million South African rand ($22.8 million) to South Africa’s export revenue. The Citrus Growers’ Association of Southern Africa stated that the lemon export market to China from the Southern Hemisphere has been dominated by Argentina and Chile to date, but once the protocol is in effect, South African lemon exports to China are expected to surpass both competitors and reach 25,000 tons by 2024.

South Africa is the world’s second-largest citrus exporter with a peak harvest season that extends from mid-May through July. In 2020, South African citrus plantations occupied approximately 94,329 hectares for a year-on-year increase of 9%, affording a total citrus output of 3.1 million tons in the 2020/21 season. South African lemons are mainly exported to the Middle East (35%), Europe (34%), Southeast Asia (9%), Russia (9%) and North America (5%). South Africa’s lemon production is expected to increase by 2% this year to a total of 670,000 tons.

Images: Pixabay (main image), Economic and Commercial Counsellor’s Office of the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in the Republic of South Africa (body image)

This article was translated from Chinese. Read the original article.

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