Taipei, Dec. 5 (CNA) The first batch of Taitung-grown custard apples is being shipped to China following the end of a Chinese import suspension lasting more than two years, Taitung County Magistrate Yao Ching-ling (饒慶鈴) said Tuesday.
Beijing halted imports of custard apples from Taiwan in September 2021, citing the detection of mealy bugs in the fruit, but the ban was lifted in June this year when the Chinese government approved the registration of 25 orchards and three packing plants, all of which are based in Taitung for exports to the mainland.
According to media reports, the first shipment of atemoyas -- a hybrid variety of custard apples -- arrived at Kaohsiung Port Tuesday before being shipped to China later that day. It was set to arrive in Pingtan, Fujian on Thursday before being sold in Jiangnan Market, Guangzhou City, Guangdong.
Yao confirmed the reports, saying the growing of atemoyas is a pillar of Taitung's economy, with the export value of the fruit reaching nearly NT$1.3 billion (US$41.27 million) in 2020.
Over the past two years, the county government has worked hard to market locally grown atemoyas and sought to resume exports to China, the largest export destination, she added.
According to Yao, the local government has helped 41 packaging plants to improve operational management and is working to help them regain permits to resume exports to China.
Their products are expected to be included in the next round of shipment to China, she added.
In June, Yao attended the 2023 Straits Forum in Xiamen, Fujian where she conveyed the desire of custard apple growers in Taitung to export to the mainland.
Also Tuesday, acting Agriculture Minister Chen Junne-jih (陳駿季) said the ministry hopes to sell good-quality fruit to all countries, particularly high-end markets, and will not give up on the Chinese market.
The most important factor determining the import and export of agricultural produce is whether they meet quarantine requirements, Chen said.
He added that China's decision to resume the imports of custard apples from 25 orchards and three packing plants in Taitung was made without holding negotiations with Taiwan's central authorities as required by a cross-strait agreement involving cooperation on the quarantine and inspection of agricultural produce.
However, the Ministry of Agriculture did receive notice in June that China had approved the import of custard apples from those entities in Taitung County, according to Chen.
He urged Beijing to handle relevant matters through the cooperation agreement platform, instead of talking directly to local governments.