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A good crop expected to push kino exports to 115,000 tonnes this season

Dec 03 - 09 , 2001

Kino, the citrus hybrid, has become a signature Pakistani fruit in many parts of Europe and Far East. To those who love sweet tangerines and/or have tasted easy-to-peel mandarins, kino is the cross between the two- sweet, tangy and full of vitamin.

The most-valued proof of Pakistani agricultural research most suitable for farming in the benevolently ideal soil in many parts of Punjab, the most notable being Sarghoda, Kino is the top foreign exchange earner among all fresh fruit exports surpassing even the delectable mango. Last fiscal it earned precious foreign exchange of $ 16.3 million from exports which totalled 97,000 tonnes, almost 50 per cent of which was exported to the Far Eastern markets of Jakarta, Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore and also Hong Kong which shows a much greater potential.

A good crop this season, which has started pouring into the markets recently, is expected to push kino exports to 115,000 tonnes this season. However, much depends of a number of external factors to help achieve the expected target.

Talking to PAGE the chairman of Karachi-based Fruits Vegetables Processors and Exporters Association, Mateen Siddiqui said that a stronger rupee resulting in shedding of Rs 4 per dollar in the interbank exchange rate in the wake of September 11 plus the levy of war insurance surcharge poses challenges for the kino exporters this season.

Siddiqui said that the increased insurance costs has pushed the freight prices by a substantial $300-400 hundred over the last year depending on the destination. It may be mentioned here that unlike many other fruits and vegetables the entire kino exports are shipped the sea in refrigerated containers to maintain the quality to reach the foreign markets in the prime condition. He said that increased insurance costs has pushed the freight charges on 40-foot container which contains approximately 24 tonnes to Indonesia and Philippines to $ 2,800 at present compared to $ 2,400 last year. Similarly, freight charges to other destinations such as Singapore, Malaysia and Hong Kong have increased from $ 1,900 last year to $ 2,200 at present.

Siddiqi said kino exports requires a strict quality control, grading and waxing process to ensure that only the best quality kinos are exported. He informed PAGE that the government fixes a minimum FOB export price which is revised every 15 days. Thus till December 15, the minimum export price is fixed at Rs 8 per kilogram, a rupee over the price till November 30. He said that average export price of kino last year was between 16-18 cents per kilogram which is expected to increase this year provided the grading and waxing of the fruit meets the expectations of the foreign buyers.

He said that while Middle East is the major market of the kino in terms of quantity, the best prices of the citrus comes from the smaller markets of Holland and Sweden. For instance the average price of kino in Holland, which imported just 830 tonnes of the fruit last year, was 54 cents per kilogram- three-time the average.

He said that attempts to make Hong Hong a major destination of Kino has started to materialize as it is received warmly there. Siddiqui, who was a member of delegation which attended a kino show in Colombo, Sri Lanka on November 16-17, said that he was encouraged by the response which resulted in exports of kino to the island nation. According to reports over 30 containers have already been shipped to Colombo.

While Dubai is also a major destination of Kino the market more or less remain a buyers market absorbing the surplus stocks at comparatively lower prices than the pricey markets of Europe and the Far East. However, Dubai serves as the distribution point for Pakistani citrus to many smaller hubs in the gulf region playing a vital role to help increase the export base in terms of quantity.

Siddiqui stressed that instead of offering any rebate or subsidy the government should ensure that the aid of $ 300 million given to the government to cover the increased war insurance costs is provided to the kino exporters to absorb the increased freight charges. It is only fair to divert the aid towards the specific purpose it was intended for, he added.

Kino exports are on a constant increase. It registered almost 200 per cent increase in last five years from $ 5.5 million in 1995-96 to $ 16.3 million last year. The bulk of the top graded and more expensive kino fruit is exported to Indonesia and Singapore which accounts for 30 per cent while Jeddah, London and Holland account for 10 per cent of the exports. Dubai, the ungraded and comparatively lower-priced market serves as a distribution points to other gulf states such as Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain etc. Nevertheless, as mentioned earlier Dubai plays a vital role to absorb any and all kino surplus despite the fact that on any given day kino prices remain less than one-fourth of that in the markets in the Far East.

Siddiqui said that it is imperative that a good kino production this year should be translated into record exports which is only possible with a helping hand from the government by providing money to help neutralise the substantial increase in insurance costs.