BOOSTING THE FRUIT EXPORTS
An interview with Rana Mohammad Sadiq of Arif Overseas Traders
By SHABBIR H. KAZMI
Feb 28 - Mar 05, 2000
"God has blessed Pakistan with two fruits, kinno and mango, which alone have the potential to earn additional millions of dollars if storage facilities are improved, processing is done according to health and safety requirements of importing countries and banks are able to complete documentation expeditiously", there were the expressions of Rana Mohammad Sadiq of Arif Overseas Traders while talking to PAGE.
Arif Overseas Traders started export of fresh fruits, mainly kinno and mango to Singapore, about a decade ago. Their first export consignment was of 250 kg of mango and 1000 kg of kinno. Currently they export more than four 40-feet containers of fresh fruits every day. This volume has been achieved only through untiring efforts to supply the best possible quality. While many exporters send their shipments on 'collection' basis, the Company exports on advance cash payment or delivery against cash payment. The Company has been able to sell 'Arif" brand in the most competitive market only because of strict quality control and superior packaging. Another recognition of the Company was that was the only Pakistani fruit exporter selected by Holland's Centre for Promotion of Imports from Developing Countries for sponsored participation in a trade fair in 1997.
According to Rana Sadiq, "While all the banks operating in Pakistan assign priority to documentation of perishable goods, Habib Bank AG Zurich excels in this services. The Bank, is preferred by fruit exporters due to expeditious and professional processing of documents. The management of the Bank understands the intricacies of fresh fruit export business and employs trained, courteous and efficient staff members who understand each and every need of client. That is the reason bulk of our export business is handled by the Bank. Our long-established association with Habib Bank AG Zurich and their continued financial support has enabled us to export more and more over the years "
As regards maintaining the highest quality of export Rana Sadiq and his team has been working very hard in purchasing fruits, maintaining state-of-the-art processing and storage facilities. Their latest endeavour is the establishment of a 30-tonnes per hour processing plant right in the kinno growing area. This plant is capable of processing one 40-feet container per hour. It will not be out of context to mention that the largest such plant operating in the US has a capacity to process only 15-tonnes per hour. Not only that the plant being installed by Arif Overseas will be the largest, it is based on the latest technology and components have been purchased from the most reputed manufacturers around the globe. It is a matter of great pride, both for the Company and the Pakistan that installation is being done by local technicians who are the employees of the Company. Improved packaging not only enhances the 'shelf life' but eliminates possible damage during transit.
According to Rana Sadiq, "The export of kinno from Pakistan can be increased manifold. At least 50 per cent of the total produce is wasted due to inadequate and inefficient storage facilities. The other major constraint is that Pakistani kinno and mango cannot be exported to the US and Japan _ offering the highest price. This is only because of our failure to understand and comply with health and safety requirements of these two countries. The buyers from these countries, who have visited Pakistan, tasted the products and witnessed the quality, have shown exceptionally keen interest in importing from Pakistan. However, this dream cannot come true unless the conditions are met. A point to be noted is that during 'Chinese new year season' Arif brand virtually ruled the Far-Eastern markets. This was due to our efforts to export the best quality and superior packing of the product."
Dilating his point he added, "We, at our end, are constantly making efforts to ensure supply of superior quality of fruits, use better packaging and reduce freight charges. We are also educating the growers to follow international plantation standards for kinno. Globally there are 400 kinno plants per acre, but in Pakistan only 100 plants per acre are cultivated. If local farmers follow the international standard they can earn, net income, at least Rs 400,000 per acre. This can be the highest return from any crop in the country."
To conclude Rana Sadiq said, "We need the help of GoP in inviting the experts from the US and Japan to brief the local exporters on the health and safety standards of these countries. It is in the interest of importing countries to help us as they currently import inferior quality at higher price from other countries.