THE country has witnessed an 87 percent surge in citrus export earnings from US$654 000 in the first half of 2022 to US$1, 22 million during the corresponding period this year amid growing calls by the Government for producers to value add produce before exporting.
Statistics availed by the Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency (ZimStats) show that orange juice export earnings increased from US$653 615 in 2022 to US$ 1 224 868 in 2023.
Volumes surged from 1 231 411 to 1 629 146 kilogrammes with the average price shooting from US$0, 53 to US$0, 75 per kilogramme.
Efforts to get a comment from the Horticultural Development Council were in vain as they had not responded to our questions on the matter at the time of publishing.
However, former Citrus Growers Association of Zimbabwe (CGAZ) chair Mr John Perrott shed some light on the subject saying some entrepreneurs were processing oranges into juice, though the big plant in Mazowe was currently not operational for exports.
“Most orange growers export their fruits raw without value addition but some, especially in the Beitbridge area, are value adding and selling them as juice before exporting. The Mazowe orange juicing plant is not operating now,” said Mr Perrott.
Within the whole citrus product grouping, export earnings rose 20 percent from US$3 880 309 in the first half of 2022 to US$4 639 268 in 2023.
Among the products in the citrus grouping are fresh or dried oranges, mandarins, orange juice, fresh or dried citrus fruit, juice of any other single citrus fruit and essential oils of citrus fruit.
Fresh or dried oranges exports constituted an average of 84 percent between the years 2020 to 2022.
Over the same period the average price of fresh or dried oranges was US$0, 15 per kilogramme. The crushing of fresh oranges into juice increases the export price by 460 percent. This has the added advantage of employment creation apart from increased foreign currency earnings.
Bulk citrus exports start in July and end in September every year. The country’s citrus products have predominantly been exported to the European Union (EU) market with some destined for the African market.
This year the country’s citrus products debuted the Chinese market after the conclusion of the Zimbabwe-China trade protocol last year.
The citrus exports to China this year will be via the port of Durban as stakeholders work out modalities of making the short Beira port cold sterilisation standards conform with the Chinese market requirements.
Citrus exports increased from US$13 million in 2020 to US$14 million in 2021 and 2022. Citrus production is expected to increase as some recently planted trees mature and come into production, this coupled with the opening of the Chinese market is expected to cause a rise in earnings from the sub-sector.
The HDC is targeting a US$1 billion horticulture export industry by 2030, through a 30 percent annual growth of the sector and expansion of value addition ventures such as these will short-circuit the realisation of this vision. – Herald