Market access has finally been granted for South African pears to China. This according to the governing body of the South African deciduous fruit industry, Hortgro.
The news comes after many years of work by a team of officials from the industry and the department of agriculture, land reform and rural development.
“We are absolutely ecstatic that we have finally concluded this process that started many years ago,” Jacques du Preez, Hortgro general manager: trade and markets, said.
Due to the international travel restrictions brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic, the signing of the South African pear protocol that initially was planned to take place in 2020 only happened a year later.
The signing was supposed to take place in person in China, but after a long wait, the agreement has finally been concluded remotely.
South African apples gained access to China six years ago. The pear protocol was signed and access agreed upon by the Chinese minister of GACC (General Administration of Customs China) on 29 November 2021.
According to Hortgro the agreement was subsequently couriered to South Africa and signed on 13 December by agriculture minister Thoko Didiza.
As a final step orchard and packhouse registrations and verification still needs to be concluded in order for the first container of pears to be shipped to China, Hortgro said.
However, this process is already underway. This verification is also planned to be a virtual process, one of the positive outcomes of the Covid restrictions.
“We would like to thank minister Thoko Didiza and her department’s officials that worked tirelessly to make this possible. We also want to acknowledge the behind-the-scenes hard work by the industry scientists and specialists,” Du Preez, said.
He added that they were looking forward to much closer, mutually beneficial, working relationships with the Chinese authorities in order to expedite market access between the two countries in much shorter timeframes in future.
“We can’t wait to ship our first container of delicious, ethically-produced pears that adheres to the strictest food safety protocols, to China. We view the Chinese market as crucial to the sustainability and further growth of our pear industry.
“We have experienced tremendous growth in exports to other Eastern nations and now we can supply Chinese consumers with our delicious pears as well,” Du Preez said.
Hard work lies ahead
Hortgro’s executive director, Anton Rabe, said that gaining new markets, while also maintaining market access are top priorities within Hortgro.
“We have a multi-dimensional team of experts dealing with the ever-increasing demands and compliance issues. Most of this work goes unseen and happens below the radar,” he explained.
According to Rabe when there is tangible results such as the signing of a new protocol for a new product there is reason to celebrate and thank all the individuals.
This includes both the public and private sector who have worked tirelessly towards achieving this objective.
“Gaining a market of this nature, is not a silver bullet which will ensure big volumes being exported overnight, nor is it the end of the road.
Now the really hard work of developing this market in partnership with the commercial role-players by optimising the potential towards meaningful volumes to China, starts.” Rabe said.
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