FRUITS AND VEGETABLES EXPORTS

Poor farm-to-market access, absence of latest technology resulting in immense wastage

By SYED M. ASLAM
Feb 16 - 22, 2004

Pakistan produces a wide range of fruits and vegetables a portion of which is being exported to other countries. Pakistani citrus fruit Kino and its signature fruit mango have been able to make inroads in the international markets in the recent years. However, the overall performance of fruits and vegetables exports including fresh fruits, dried dates, dried fruits and fruits and vegetables juices showing an inconsistent trends.

For instance, overall fruits and vegetables exports which stood at $ 106.675 million in 1998-99 increased to $ 122.497 million the next year only to dip to $ 104.086 million in 2000-01. In 2001-02, this particular category of exports, listed as the "development categories" by the government, rise marginally to $ 105.871 million and rose to $ 114.676 million in fiscal 2002-03.

The performance highlights the potential of fruit and vegetables exports. However, observers blame the poor farm-to-market access, absence of latest technology to preserve the fruits and vegetables over a period of time resulting in immense wastage, and little value-addition as the major detriments to exploit the potential.

Though exports of some of the fruits have depicted a great performance, the performance of other members of the group has failed to show any sign of betterment. For instance, the exports of 'kino' has constantly more than doubled from $ 9.059 million in 1998-99 to $ 21.704 million in 2002-03 the exports of apple drastically declined from $ 1.2 million to just $ 78,000 during the same period. Similarly, mango exports increased from $ 6.774 million in 1998-99 to $17.005 million in 2000-01 only to fall to $ 14.036 million the next year once again increasing to $ 17.626 million in 2002-03.

The export performance of fresh vegetables depicts a similar inconsistent pattern it has depicted a 45 per cent decrease from $ 47.328 million in 1998-99 to $ 26.495 million in 2002-03. The inconsistent performance could be attributed to a wild fluctuations in the production, and exports, of such daily-use vegetables as potatoes the exports of which fetched $ 16.81 million in 1998-99 but ultimately dried to $ 6.818 million during the last fiscal. The performance of another necessary kitchen item, onion, has been even more inconsistent its exports fetched $ 23.914 million in 1998-99 dipping to $ 5.427 million in 2001-02 increasing slightly to $ 6.086 million last fiscal. The inconsistent production and export performance highlights the need for measures to ensure consistent productivity necessary not only to meet the domestic demand but also to help boost the overall exports. Similarly, garlic exports show a similar inconsistent pattern.

The export of fruit and vegetable juices has remained stagnant for the four years ended 2001-02 but registered a 32 per cent increase in 2002-03. It stood at $ 3.819 million in 1998-99, $ 3.956 million in 1999-00, $ 3.091 million in 2000-01, $ 3.788 million in 2002-03 and $ 5.026 million in 2002-03. The growing demand for fruit and vegetable juice is fueled by increasing consciousness about health but the inability of the exporters to exploit the real potential can be attributed to the factors mentioned above.

Much has been done by the successive governments to encourage fruits and vegetables exports but much remains to be done to address the basic problems related to efficient farm-to-market infrastructure, the destablising role of the middlemen, the inconsistent production pattern, weather-proof storage facilities, induction of latest processing and preserving technology increased value-addition not only to help lessen the immense wastage but also to fetch a better price in the overseas markets.

This would not only offer better returns for the growers otherwise unable to market their produce at present but also help boost canned culture ensuring the availability of frozen, canned or chilled fruits & vegetables throughout the year to stabalise the prices of the produce. Most of all, it would help avert crisis such as the one when prices of fresh tomotoes rose to unaffordable levels of as much as Rs 120 per kilo recently.

Table 1
Value of Fruits Exports ('000' dollars)

Item

1998-99

1999-00

2000-01

2001-02

2002-03

Kino

9,059

13,916

16,310

20,842

21,704

Apples

1,213

1,280

454

299

78

Mango

6,774

11,576

17,005

14,036

17,626

Dates Fresh

3,738

3,330

2,481

2,080

1,655

Dates Dried

17,305

20,655

23,499

25,546

23,449

Fresh Fruits N.S.

6,946

7,894

5,985

7,019

6,191

Dried Fruits

7,561

19,313

9,909

9,211

8,766

Oranges

907

422

186

208

78

Other Fruits

2,025

1,506

2,876

3,848

3,608

Total

55,528

79,892

78,705

83,089

83,155

 


 

Table 2
Value of Exports of Vegetables ('000' dollars)

Item

1998-99

1999-00

2000-01

2001-02

2002-03

Potatoes

16,810

9,727

6,656

6,091

6,818

Onion

23,914

19,885

10,280

5,427

6,086

Other Fresh Vegetables N.S.

316

1,132

1,976

702

6,651

Mushroom

4,501

6,898

2,136

3,399

3,285

Garlic

1,276

325

177

1,542

836

Other Vegetables

511

682

1,065

1,833

2,819

Total

47,328

38,649

22,290

18,994

26,495