MANGO - KING OF FRUITS

M.R. CHAUDHRY
July 28 - Aug 03, 2008

The arrival of Mango - King of fruits, is eagerly awaited by all old and young, as usual, in every summer. Mango, which is a juicy tropical fruit, is one of the biggest attraction in summer for people as the most delicious fruit of the season.

POPULAR PAKISTANI VARIETIES OF MANGO:

There is a good variety of mangoes, each with different form, volume, weight, unique flavour and colour. Early varieties include Zaffron, Sarooly, Dasan and Langra, the mid varieties include Sindhri, Gulab, Khasa, Chonsa, Saleh Bahi, Anwar Ratol and Bombay Alfanso while in late varieties there are Swormarki, Began Palli, Neelam and Desi mangoes. Most popular and well known of mangoes are Sindhri, Lungra, Samer Bahasht, Dusehri, Neelum, Bangapali, Anwar Ratool, Alphansa, Malda and Chaunsa.

Mango is the most widely eaten and is a favourite fruit of people around the world. It is a rich source of Vitamin A and have a good amount of essential minerals, including copper.

Clinical psychologists are of the opinion that mango serves as a comfort food as it provides deep psychological satisfaction because of its stomach soothing properties due to the presence of certain enzymes.

MANGO AS A SOURCE OF LIVELIHOOD TO STREET VENDORS:

Mango provides livelihood to small fruit shops, street vendors and pushing cart operators as everybody in Asia including Pakistan like to eat mango. As a result of the present price hike in the market, prices of mango have also shot up. In the twin city of Rawalpindi-Islamabad, reportedly Langra is selling at Rs.80 per kg while mango at Lahore is selling at Rs.50-60 per kg while its price last year was Rs.25-30 per kg. It is hoped that by the mid June when mango crop would be in full swing, prices may come down.

EXPORT OF PAKISTANI MANGO:

Presently Pakistan is the fifth top exporter of mango fruit in the world, however, the country has potential to become a leading exporter of the fruit as Pakistani mangoes are becoming most popular in the world due to their excellent taste, pleasing and exotic fragrance and almost total absence of fiber in it. Pakistan is already ahead of its neighbouring countries in mango exports because of the superior quality of the Pakistani mango.

During the current year (2008) Pakistan's mango exports are likely to fall by more than 40 percent as compared to the last year. This decline in the export of mango is attributed to the devastation of the crop in the provinces of Punjab and Sindh. However, Pakistan Horticulture Development & Export Board (PHDEB) is seriously engaged in efforts to enhance the export of horticulture products beyond $200 million annually.

In the year 2007, export of this country's one of the most demanding fruits of the summer season stood at 1,20,000 metric tons, which was far better as compared to the production in the year 2006 when it fell sharply in the level of 88,000 tons spreading a lot of gloom and disappointment amongst an overwhelming number of farmers and growers.

The expected sharp decline in Mango crop during 2008 would not only deprive the country of invaluable foreign exchange earning but would also pose a serious financial hardship for exporters as they would be encountering great difficulty to ensure their presence in the most competitive world's markets. One of the major reasons of devastation was of unripe mango crop spread over large areas of both the provinces of Punjab and Sindh because of the unexpected blow of strong winds in Hala and Matiari and prolonged chilly and frosty weather conditions and hail storm during the months of January and February 2008 in Rahimyar Khan and Multan areas, which proved disastrous for the crop.

Annual yield of Mango usually ranges between 2 to 2.5 million tons in the country, out of which 5 to 7 percent is exported. The traditional growing areas of Mango in the province of Punjab include Rahimyar Khan and Multan, which are famous for their Chaunsa variety while in Hala, Matiari, Kotri, Tandallahyar and Chanbar areas of Sindh are renowned worldwide for Sindhri, which is always in high demand in Europe, Gulf and Far Eastern markets. However, this year, the situation has developed into a nightmare for exporters as due to devastation of mango crop, the expected yield is likely to remain 7 and 8 lakh tons resulting in steep rise in its prices.

It is feared that the country may lose its traditional market to other major mango producing countries like India, Australia and other countries that are selling their fruits at comparatively lower rates.

POSSIBLE EFFECT OF INFLATION ON EXPORT OF MANGO:

Two major fruit airlines have already announced enhancing their tariff rates by 30 to 70 percent under the pretext of rising petroleum prices. Besides, local transportation charges have already risen by more than 30 percent as the oil prices have risen steeply high. Labour force involved in fruit packing and lifting has also demanded a rise in wages 20-25 percent on the basis of rampant inflation in the country.

DOWNFALL IN PRODUCTION, EXPECTED EXPORT, AND MEASURES TO CONTROL THE ADVERSE SITUATION:

Chairman Fruit and Vegetables Exporters Association, Abdul Wahid estimated that the production of mango this year is expected to be 9 to 10 lakh tons due to bad weather, leading to a significant hike in its prices. Addressing a press conference, he stated that the first arrivals of the fruit are on sale in the market (in May) and its opening rates are Rs.28 to Rs.30 per kg as compared to Rs.18 to Rs.20 last year. Explaining the reasons of declining the production of mango crop continuously in Sindh, he said it was due to insufficient returns to farmers, high input costs, following inflation in the country as well as lack of support from the government.

Regarding export, he explained that last year mangoes were exported to 48 countries and foreign exchange worth US$35.36 million was earned. According to him the production last year was about 2 million tons. He assessed that cumulative effect of the inflation has increased the export price and he feared that this would result in 50 percent decline in total export of the fruit this year. Suggesting measures to control the alarming situation regarding high export prices of mango, he urged the government to offer 25 percent air and sea freight subsidy to exporters so as to enable them make their export prices somewhat competitive and stay in the international market and meet the global competition. The rate of the freight subsidy to China and Iran must be 50 percent due to the emergence of these new markets as the export to China is possible only by air because of its transit time of 25 days by road or by sea. He tried to justify his demand by mentioning that Israel, India, Mexico and Brazil are dominating world mango market because their governments provide all-out support and facilities to the growers and exporters. Recalling and referring to the promise of the previous government, he stated that it had promised a subsidy for FY 2006-07 but that has not yet been paid. TDAP should also pay freight subsidy for the year, 2006-07 immediately. Our exporters, he explained, are in tough competition with India since we do not have technology to treat mango for extending its shelf life. It is, therefore, not possible for our exporters to export mango by sea involving long period to reach its destinations. He cautioned that if reasonable freight subsidy is not allowed, the country would have to bear an irreparable loss in terms of foreign exchange as well as loss of markets.

The Trade Development Authority of Pakistan has set 130,000 metric tons mango export for 2008 but, as mentioned above, exporters fear that they would not be able to achieve that target unless the government makes necessary facilitation and subsidization on air and sea freight to make the export price of the fruit somewhat competitive and also to enable exporters to remain in the international market for export of this fruit. Cold storage arrangements need to be made at Multan, Bahawalpur and other airports besides increasing the cargo booking by air and sea during the harvesting season of the fruit to avoid wastage because of extremely hot weather and high temperature of these areas.

VALUE ADDITION:

The government must provide necessary credit to farmers and businessmen for investing in setting processing and packing plants, for making juices, sauces, jams, pickles. It may be worth mentioning that about 40 percent of mango fruit is wasted during picking, handling, lack of refrigeration and cold chain and proper transportation. This loss can be alleviated by value addition through processing and by preparing by-products and derivatives.