Justin Chadwick, chief executive of the South African Citrus Growers Association, expects local lemon producers to have exported 225 tonnes of lemons to the Chinese market since the beginning of the year, with more to be exported throughout the year.
"So far, only 225 tons of lemons have been exported to China; it's the beginning of the season, and we expect more lemons to be exported to China as the season quickens," he said.
South Africa is Africa's leading lemon producer. Thanks to the revised lemon agreement, the country is now able to export lemons. Under the previous agreement, signed bilaterally in 2006, all citrus exports from South Africa had to undergo a 24-day low-temperature treatment at or below 0.6 degrees Celsius to prevent fruit flies and false moths.
After the new protocol is implemented, lemons must be refrigerated at 3 degrees Celsius for at least 18 days. The revised trade changes could create thousands of jobs in the lemon industry, generating more than 330 million rands ($22.78 million).