Despite harvesting a rich kinno crop in Pakistan, the
overall export of the citrus fruit is feared to experience a sharp
decline owing to lower demand in the Far Eastern countries this year.
The Far Eastern countries especially, Indonesia,
Malaysia, Singapore and Sri Lanka are the major buyer of about 90 per
cent of the total exports from Pakistan.
The month of December and January are considered as
the peak of the season which usually gets accelerated with the annual
festival of Chinese New Year which begins from the month of February.
Chinese people living in a vast majority in the Far Eastern countries
take kinno as their religious fruit which not only enjoy by eating but
also throw in the sea as the part of their prayer for a prosperous
The total exports of kinno in terms of volume was
estimated at 121,000 tons while in terms of value the total export had
fetched $20 million last year. It is unfortunate that these perishable
items may not be able to repeat the previous year's performance due to
Matin Siddiqui, Chairman of Association of Fruit
Exporters and Processors of Pakistan says that due to ambiguity in the
policies regarding value addition and packaging, a sizeable market has
been lost in the Far Eastern countries this year.
Elaborating his point of view about loss of the
market, Matin said that earlier the ministry of commerce had decided
that exporters should use paper cartons for export of kinno and other
fresh fruits to improve quality and image of the exports from Pakistan.
Accordingly, the exporters in line with the
government policy, imported paper cartons in bulk and also informed
their importers about the difference in price due to change of packaging
material from wooden crates to paper cartons. While this scheme of
value-addition was in its half way, the ministry of commerce suddenly
allowed exports in wooden crates simultaneously with paper carton. Since
the confusion created due to difference in prices of the two different
consignments i.e. in wooden crates and the paper cartons, the buyers
were thoroughly confused and stopped placing orders. Consequently, the
kinno exports to the Far Eastern countries are likely to drop even to 50
per cent as compared to the last year.
Matin said that there is a full fledged government
organization namely Export Promotion Bureau (EPB) and recently
constituted Horticulture Board in which the private sector has been
given full representation, are working to facilitate the export business
in the country. Let these bodies to work independently. However, over
riding attitude of the ministry of commerce in the export business not
only hampers the smooth flow but amounts distract it out of the track.
He suggested that the two bodies be entrusted to facilitate the export
of fruits from Pakistan for getting better results.
In view of the growing international demand for
packaging of the fresh fruits in paper cartons instead of the wooden
crates in line with the quality standards and to avoid bacteria or other
diseases, Pakistan in principle had already decided to shift from wooden
to paper cartons. However, permission given by the ministry of commerce
for wooden crates had puzzling effects on the exporters who had fully
switched to the paper cartons, said Matin.
Meanwhile, the visiting experts from the United
Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) have also suggested
to the Government of Pakistan to ban wooden crates for exports of citrus
fruits and vegetables to meet the international standards.
The visiting experts on perishable items,
refrigerated transport Alexandre La Rosa has suggested to the Export
Promotion Bureau to ensure compliance of the required standards
regarding handling, storage and transportation of fresh fruits,
vegetables and other perishable items. The UNCTAD, trade and
facilitation project is a World Bank funded project to provide advisory
services to various governments.
Currently, the packing for export of kinno has become
a controversy between the two exporting groups. One group which has
imported paper cartons after paying what they described heavy import
duty is finding itself in a fix as the other group which is exporting in
wooden crates is getting advantage of the less packaging cost. It may be
noted that all exports of fresh fruits to the Western countries is
already shifted to the paper cartons while the some of the Far Eastern
countries have also given a deadline till the end of the current year to
completely shift from wooden to paper carton otherwise imports of fresh
fruits in wooden crates would be completely banned. Colombo has also
given the similar warning to the exporters in Pakistan not to use wooden
Exports of fruits in Pakistan mostly comprise of
citrus, mangoes and dates, which constitute around 91 per cent of total
fruit export from Pakistan. The trends for these three major fruits show
a continuous rise in quantity and value. The marketable surplus in the
case of fruits is 80 per cent of total production. The total losses from
farm to the consumer range between 25-35 per cent.