Pakistani mangoes are facing fierce competition from their Thai and Indian counterparts
By SYED M. ASLAM
May 26 - June 01, 2003
Despite unwelcomed early April showers in Sindh, the second top mango producing province of the country, the export volume of the delectable signature Pakistani fruit is expected to surpass the comparative figure last year.
However, Pakistani mangoes are facing fierce competition from their Thai and Indian counterparts in the major markets in the Far East including Malaysia and Singapore. In addition, the unofficial export of the fruit to such neighbouring countries as Iran and Afghanistan is depriving the exchequers and legal exporters substantial monies in revenue and earnings respectively.
Chairman of Fruits Vegetables Processors and Exporters Association Mateen Siddiqui told PAGE that a good mango crop this year is expected to result in increased exports surpassing 47,000 tonnes last year. "The value of the 47,000 tonnes mangoes exported last year totaled $ 21 FoB and the exports are expected to increase this year despite fierce competition from Thailand and Indian in major markets of Far East, particularly Malaysia and Singapore.
"Pakistani mangoes are facing stiff competition from low-priced Thai counterparts and good quality Indian counterparts in these two major Far Eastern markets which took time to develop over the years. There are no signs of demand of the fruit in these two markets yet despite the beginning of the export season here in Pakistan."
Mateen told PAGE that unexpected showers in late March/early April in Sindh, which contributes 30 per cent to the total mango production in the country, was more qualitative than quantitative. "Though the showers caused substantial damage to the fruit-bearing flowers the loss has more or less has been neutralized because the flowers left intact by the rains helped the fruit to gain better weightage. However, the damage to the mango crop in Sindh was more qualitative than quantitative: Sindh produces about 30 per cent of the fruit its share in total exports is much greater — about 40 per cent due primary to premium-priced Sindhri variety particularly in the upmarket of UK and other European countries."
PAGE was informed that the prices of mango to UK has remained stable over last year fetching between Pound Sterling 2.50-2.60 per the standard 2 kilogram box. "The PIA will be starting dedicated freighter services twice weekly from Lahore to London next month and will be charging Rs 72 per kilogram at par with many other foreign airlines which would be lifting the fruits. The freight rates for Scandinavian countries is the most costly at Rs 80-85 per kilogram while that for the destinations in the Far East is around Rs 39 per kilogram — the last yet to have depict signs of demand due primary to competition from lower-priced Thai and quality Indian counterparts."
Though Dubai is the single biggest destination of Pakistani mangoes taking about three-fourth of the total exports to UK and other European countries collectively importing among themselves about 7 per cent of the fruit. Dubai, on the other hand, still remains the primary market of Pakistani mangoes, like many other fresh fruits and vegetables, serving more as a dumping ground lifting the fruit as per the demand in turn to have a direct impact on the prices of the fruit here in the country.
Mateen was much critical of the 'memo' floated by the Export Promotion Bureau to the exporters advising them not to ship the fruits before May 20 because premature fruit undermines the image of the fruit in the international markets. "It was premature as it only an advice and not a directive but also because the EBP has no jurisdiction about legally implementing it because the issue falls under the purview of ministry of commerce and trade."
PRODUCTION, EXPORT & PRICES
Mango is the second top foreign exchange earner in the fresh fruit variety after citrus fruit 'Kinnow.' It's production and export trend shows an unmatched potential: Except for a marginal decrease in 1998-99, mango production has steadily risen from 776,000 tonnes in 1990-91 to over 927,000 in 1999-2000 and around 1 million tonne today. Mango exports have steadily increase both in terms of quantity and value from 14,830 tonnes in 1993-94 to 47,602 tonnes in 1999-2000 dropping to 42,000 tonnes in 2001 and rising again to 47,000 tonnes last year .
In term of value mango exports have depicted a more stronger performance. In 1993-94 mango exports fetched $ 2.92 million which increased to $ 6.775 million in 1999 and $ 11.563 million in 2000 and $ 21 million FoB last year.
He said that despite a good crop increasing production costs including prices of fertlizer, pesticides, labour, transport, etc., is feared to push prices of mango in the local market.
Mateen expressed concerns about the smuggling of the fruit to such neighbouring countries as Iran and Afghanistan which has risen to alarming levels during last two years. "There is an alarming increase in the volume of smuggling of mangoes to these countries in last two years though the unscrupulous activity might had been continuing all along. What is even more alarming is the fact that the nefarious activity is now conducted as a barter between the unscrupulous elements — bartering mangoes for petrol, household products and much more. Though it's not possible for me to give you the loss the nefarious trade is causing to the exchequers according to an estimate between 10,000 to 15,000 tonnes of mangoes are finding their ways out of the country illegally."
The question is what can be done to stop the smuggling to cut the losses to the exchequers?