MANGO EXPORTS

Pre-export treatment plant is pre-requisite for US-European market

By AMANULLAH BASHAR
Mar 12 - 25, 2001

Despite having world's best flavour Pakistan's juicy mangoes continue to suffer an embargo on its exports for the last 40 years imposed by the United States of America in 1960. Following suit, Australia and Japan also put a ban on Pakistani mangoes for fruit flies supposedly present in Pakistani mangoes.

Otherwise, mangoes like "Sindharry", "Chaunsa", "Golden", "Fajri" and "Began Phaly" are the much sought after varieties especially in the Far Eastern and Middle Eastern countries and their demand is always on the increase. Last year Pakistan exported over 39,000 tonnes of mangoes while an increase of 23 per cent is recorded for the current year. On an average, one kg of good quality mangoes fetches one Pound Sterling in the export market.

Matin Siddiqi, President of Fruits and Vegetable Processors and Exporters Association, told PAGE that due to lack of facilities over 40 per cent of the total mango crop goes in waste which is the highest ratio. Generally 10 per cent waste is unavoidable, however Pakistan can add almost 50 per cent to its export by saving 30 per cent of the waste. He was of the opinion that this highly valuable cash crop gives Pakistan an edge over rest of the world, we are far ahead even of India in mango production, he observed.

Giving a word of caution, Matin said that the world market is becoming choosy and conscious of quality and hygienic conditions, the provision of pre-export treatment of fruits and vegetables through application of vapour heat process should be made available if we have to survive in the market.

Welcoming the report that a "Vapour Heat Treatment Plant" is being set up at Karachi, Matin disclosed that department of plant protection was given a treatment plant by Japan as experimental plant for research purposes in 1998. The objective was to establish effectiveness of this treatment in case of Pakistani mangoes. In this plant, fruit flies are reared, put on the mangoes, which are, then given vapour heat treatment. The plant was given free of cost and three Pakistanis were given training in Japan to supervise the plant. Unfortunately, Pakistani did not take advantage of the offer and failed to provide data to Japan within the given time of two years. Japan had assured to lift ban on mangoes provided the vapour heat treatment process is applied accordingly in Pakistan.

Now the department of plant protection has revived the matter and the plant will be ready before the current season of mango export starts, it is said. The work has been undertaken by the department of plant protection Ministry of Agriculture, which has already completed civil works and is in the process of installing equipment. The plant will be a big stride in the promotion of exports of fruits and vegetables from Pakistan.

This facility will ensure pest free exports of fresh fruits and vegetables which has become the requirement of importers in developed countries.

The cost of the project is estimated at Rs13.50 million, out of which an amount of Rs8.5 million has been granted, leaving a balance of Rs5 million.

The treatment plant is one of the standard methods, which are being used successfully in the Philippines, and Mexico to kill the flies. Data for these tests will be generated for various mango samples for two years. For getting the ban lifted on export of mangoes to Japan, USA and Australia which are major importers of Pakistani mangoes, the installation of the plant has become a pre-requisite for the exporting countries.

Japan has also given the treatment plants to Philippines, India and Pakistan. Once the data are generated through fruit flies reared under the skin of mango and the treatment through which these fruits become free from infestation, the Japanese government may monitor the data and ensure that only such fruit consignments are exported to that country which are treated through this system according to the prescribed standards.

Knowing that France, Germany and the Netherlands had also incinerated the mango consignments from Pakistan, this country had to move fast. The Japanese aid package has stopped due to a variety of reasons, though the country's interests in buying Pakistani mangoes has not dimmed, once these are made infestation-free on the basis of data generated, monitored and the prescribed region is implemented to treat mangoes accordingly.

This type of pre-export treatment, it may be mentioned would also be applicable on other fruits and vegetables of soft pulp like lychee, guava, papaya, gourd and tomatoes.

The plant given under the aid package is a state of the art technology, ideally suited to carry out research on small scale. Once the data are processed and result tabulated and cleared for export, the machine could be made locally. It would not have the data processing component, which is the most difficult portion. But the data being available, the showers, chambers and vapour generation and drying mechanism could be fabricated locally and used commercially. Pakistan does not have experts of variable disciplines and level. In order to carry out the experiments on other fruits, a sum of Rs12 million is required. Funding would be needed as the spin-off benefits are also going to reflect in the overall turnover advantage, subsequently to be claimed by the Export Promotion Bureau.