CULTIVATION, CARE, MARKETING AND EXPORT OF CITRUS FRUITS
In the light of experts' opinion
June 25 - July 01, 2007
Amongst the largest citrus fruits producing countries in the world Pakistan occupies the 13th position. Pakistan tops the world so far as the area under citrus orchards is concerned. The province of Punjab in all produces 95 percent of this fruit, as detailed below:
AREA AND PRODUCTION OF CITRUS IN PAKISTAN 2004-05
AREA '000' ACRES
PRODUCTION '000' TONNES
FFC recently organized a seminar for imparting information on profitable cultivation of citrus fruit orchards. This was arranged by Farm Advisor Jhang Centre in Sargodha. It was presided over by Dr. Iftikhar Ahmad Khan, Dean of Department of Agriculture, Faisalabad and Dr. Muhammad Aslam Gil, Commissioner Fruits and Minor Crops, Islamabad, participated as the Chief Guest.
In the opening address F.A.C. Manager Jhang said that this seminar was being organized to educate the farmers on how to increase the production and to improve the quality of citrus fruit. He further stated that it was also meant to bring the Government policy makers and representatives of farmers and Agriculture/Fruit experts at one platform to apprise the farmers of the Government's agricultural policies and also to make the Government aware of the practical difficulties and problems of farmers so that the Government may adopt still better farmer friendly policies. Farmers were enlightened with regard to the importance of modern technologies for increasing production of citrus fruit and contributing towards stabilization of the country's economy.
One of the prominent experts, Dr. Waqar Ahmad, Professor Agriculture University, Faisalabad pointed out that while the world's average production of citrus fruits was 30 tons per hectare, our production was as low as 10 tons per ha. He threw light on the factors responsible for this low production and recommended that for expansion of citrus tree population, we must select such a nursery, wherefrom good variety and healthy citrus plants are available and they are grafted at suitable root stalks, at about 9î-12î on the stalk from the ground level. It should also be ensured that these plants are not infected by any pests, insects or disease. He emphasized that the plants should be in the form of a† bush as bush-like citrus plants give better production. The age of the plants, as recommended, should not exceed 2 to 2.5 years. He further discussed growing of crops in the gardens, irregular fruition, weeding, irrigation, harvesting, post-harvesting care and marketing. Technical Services Executive F.A.C. Jhang emphasized upon the use of balanced fertilizers and nutritions to be provided to the plants. He stressed to apply modern ways of agriculture, keeping in view basic principles, including carrying out soil tests. These tests guide the farmers as to which fertilizer, when and how much should be provided. Using the right fertilizer at the right time in a balanced quantity helps increasing the yield per acre of the citrus fruit as well as the income of the farmer.
Reportedly 15000 soil tests have been carried out free of cost by FFC at their laboratories, which show that 100 percent of our lands are deficient in nitrogen and 50 percent in potash. It was also emphasized side by side with the major contents, minor contents including boron and zinc should also be used.
He pointed out that certain fertilizers bearing the name of NPK are available in the market at a cost 100 times higher than simple and traditional fertilizers. He urged that all the landlords should use mixture of Sona Urea, DAP and SOP and in this way make use of their own NPK instead of spending heavily on buying NPK from the market. The money thus saved can be wisely used for procurement of other inputs to enhance production and control the cost of production.
Niaz Ahmad Chaudhry, Director Orange Research Institute, Sargodha disclosed that Kinno being the most popular fruit, locally and internationally, is cultivated on vast areas of land. A great credit goes to this institute for developing seedless Kinno. Seedless Kinno has the largest demand in the international market, as it is a novelty amongst the citrus fruits. As soon as the technology for producing this variety of Kinno is within the reach of every farmer and they are themselves in a position to produce this variety in good quantity, it would lead to create handsome scope for the local and international consumption and export of this special variety. Surely, it will bring bonanza to the country.
The expert opinion was that pests, insects and disease cannot be controlled by using only chemicals, health of the plants, organic methods and use of herbal pesticides also contribute to increase the immunity of plants. He advised that citrus fruits are more vulnerable to be attacked by citrus green and citrus scab. Fungicides should be used twice a year to ensure safety of the citrus tree from being affected by these diseases. First time the trees should be sprayed before they bear the fruit and second time at their fruit bearing stage.
Regarding exports of citrus fruits, Tariq Mahmood Area Officer Pakistan Agricultural Development and Exports, based on the stress of Pakistan Horticulture & Fruits Export Board, reiterated that the importance of citrus orchards has very much increased for the country's economic development. Fruits' share in our agricultural products exports is 4 percent, in which citrus fruit has the key role. Amongst the citrus fruits, Kinno enjoys the significant position in the world, which has so many unique qualities of colour, smell/ fragrance, taste and flavour. Pakistan earns 21 million dollars every year by the export of citrus fruit of which the share of Kinno is more than 90 percent. However, it is a sorrowful state of affairs that because of the declining production of the citrus fruit, fall of the fruit before harvesting and deterioration of quality, our exports are suffering a downfall. The need of the hour is that our landlords should not only increase their per acre production but also endeavour to improve the quality to earn much more foreign exchange.
Dr. Muhammad Aslam Gill, Commissioner for Fruits and Minor Crops, Islamabad told that citrus fruits in Pakistan has many benefits over other crops. He advised that our landlords/farmers should ensure production of the quality fruit at comparatively low cost, as far as possible, so as to meet the challenges of W.T.O. and the international market to establish Pakistan's place in the world's market.
Recently Pakistan has entered into an agreement with China for export of Kinno. It has, therefore, become incumbent upon our farmers not only to increase the production of citrus fruits but also to improve upon their quality. For value addition, private sector should also come forward to install reprocessing plants to manufacture value added products and arrange for cold storage facilities. This would increase negotiation time of the growers in getting better prices. The Government should extend credit facilities to farmers and exporters for installing reprocessing plants and cold storages on soft terms. Technical know-how and extension service for processing, grading, packing etc. of the citrus fruits for export must be made available to farmers, exporters and other stake holders by holding seminars, workshops and training courses by the Export Promotion Bureau, Business Centres and experts to create awareness amongst them to fulfill the requirements of the international market, W.T.O. and accept the challenges of competition price-wise as well as quality-wise in the international market.