Lemon export protocol to boost investment, create jobs

The recent signing of a revised citrus protocol between South Africa and China by Agriculture, Land Affairs and Rural Development Minister Thoko Didiza will secure R325-million in new export revenue and create 800 jobs in the industry, the Citrus Growers’ Association of South Africa (CGASA) says.

With local lemon production expected to grow by 175 000 t by 2024, the finalisation of the revised protocol means China will become a critical new market for growth.

Up to now, Argentina and Chile have dominated lemon exports to China. However, once the revised protocol is in place, South Africa is expected to surpass both countries’ exports, with expectations that South Africa will export 25 000 t of lemons to China by 2024.

The local industry has already enjoyed phenomenal growth in exports to China in recent years, with shipments of grapefruit, orange and soft citrus having reached 130 000 t in 2020.

The revised protocol was six years in the making, following a request submitted by the citrus industry to exempt lemons from the current regulatory requirements for False Coddling Moth in light of the category not being a host for the pest.

In a statement, the CGASA states that the revised protocol will further expand the industry’s reach in the citrus market.

The protocol milestone follows the recent first shipment of South African citrus to the Philippines, which will also result in new export earnings of close to R205-million a year.

The CGASA states that it looks forward to continue working with the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development, South African embassies, various government authorities and the citrus industry to keep enhancing, expanding and retaining access to key markets including China, the US, India, Philippines, Japan, Vietnam and the European Union

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