FRUIT EXPORTS COULD FETCH $400 MILLION A YEAR
The private sector would have to expand its capacity to meet the fast-growing demand
From KHALID BUTT, Lahore
Aug 22 - 28, 2005
Pakistan can enhance its exports of fruits up to $400 million a year in next four to five years in case the capacity of cold storages and reefer containers is increased and the required infrastructure is put in place. Chief Executive Pakistan Horticulture Development and Export Board Shamoon Sadiq disclosed this in an interview recently.
"The demand of Pakistani mangoes, kinnos and other fruits is rapidly increasing and the private sector would have to expand its capacity to meet the fast-growing demand," he said
Sadiq pointed out that Iran and China have opened their markets for Pakistani mangoes and kinnos and they have signed MOUs with Pakistan regarding the quarantine requirements and storage standards.
The PHDEB CEO said that the board is further exploring markets in East Europe, East Russia and Vietnam to capture maximum share of fruit exports from Pakistan.
Pakistani exporters can easily capture some share in these markets where the quarantine and storage standards are not as tough as in other countries.
He further disclosed that the board was ready to provide pre-shipment inspection facility on voluntarily basis to the fruit exporters by engaging the well-reputed multinational companies.
If the Ministry of Commerce and exporters agreed to this proposal, the board would engage the world's famous companies SGS and BBQI to ensure quality in the export of fruits from Pakistan.
The PHDEB would take up the issues of pre-shipment inspection and expansion in cold storages as well as other important infrastructure matters with the Ministry of Commerce next week.
The Ministry of Commerce has summoned a review meeting of the PHDEB, to be chaired by Federal Minister for Commerce Humayun Akhtar Khan.
Mr Shamoon said that the Commerce Minister was very keen to promote the horticulture sector and its exports and in the upcoming meet the PHDEB would apprise the minister about the constraints being faced by the board and the exporters.
He also disclosed that Pakistani exporters have started sending trial containers of mangoes to Iran.
During recent visit of Pakistani delegation of mango exporters, arranged by the PHDEB, Iran opened its markets for the import of Pakistani mangoes and kinnos.
He said that the Iranian importers also want to place bulk orders for kinnos from coming season, starting from mid-December and they have urged the Pakistani exporters to increase storage capacity and also make arrangements to fulfill the quarantine and storage standards.
Shamoon said that the board facilitated meetings between the Pakistani exporters, Iranian importers, transporters and government officials in Mashhad, Tehran and Zahidan with the objective to encourage export of these two most favourite fruit items from Pakistan.
He further said that the Iranian officials and private sector people have promised to provide transit facility for the export of mangoes and kinno from Pakistan to Central Asian Republics (CARs), Russia and East Europe. He said that the transit facility would help Pakistani exporters to send fruits to the said destinations in a short period.
He dispelled the impression that the PHDEB was not taking appropriate measures to promote horticulture exports and said that some elements, having vested interests, were active to tarnish the image of the board.
Recently, Habib Bank organized a seminar on the scope of establishing fruit processing units in Pakistan, especially citrus and mango. Speaking on the occasion, Qasim Noon, Minister of Agricultural Marketing, Punjab, appreciated the efforts of Habib Bank in the promotion of agricultural credit and horticulture sector.
Jamil A. Khan, Senior Executive Vice President and Group Executive, Retail Banking, said that Pakistan was facing poor post-harvest fruit management problem. Approximately 35-40 percent of the fruits was being lost because of weak post-harvest management, he said.
The agriculture sector has annual credit requirement of more than Rs292 billion. It provides tremendous scope for banks and financial institutions not only to make it a commercial proposition but to serve as a national cause with its multidimensional effects on poverty alleviation, reduction in import bill, earning of precious foreign exchange through exports and deposit generation for further investment. He invited the interested growers and investors to come forward and make investment in this sector for which the bank will provide necessary support.
During 2005-06 Habib Bank plans to achieve a disbursement target of Rs20 billion, which is 100 percent more than the previous year's target.
Muhammad Yousuf, Secretary Agricultural Marketing, Punjab, also made deliberations on the marketing aspects of fruits that were highly appreciated by the audience.
Zaheer Masood of HBL said that during last few years HBL has introduced a number of farmer friendly products that have gained a lot of popularity among the farming community. HBL products have boosted tractor sales, promoted dairy and poultry farming in addition to helping crop growers, he added.