June 14 - 20, 2010

Pakistan has huge potential to fetch precious foreign exchange through promoting exports of agriculture products and fruits.

What is needed is to adopt latest techniques to add value addition in agri products and methods to increase shelve life of fruits and vegetables.

Pakistani fruits and vegetable export remained at $240 million in eight months from July 2009 till February 2010, which is 53 per cent higher than the corresponding period last year. Pakistan's major fruits and vegetables include orange, mango, onion, potato and chillies. Mango production is around 1.6 million tons in Pakistan, with a consumption of 0.8 million tons while around 15 per cent is wasted. Last year the country exported 130,000 tons of mangoes. This year target has been increased to 150,000 tons.

"Export of fruits and vegetables can reach $1 billion, if Pakistan signs FTA and MFN treaties with some countries along with value addition that would also boost its fruit and vegetable exports," experts told Pakistan and Gulf Economist (PAGE).

According to them, the government must set up a Research and Development (R&D) centre to increase packaging and crop development that would likely increase export of fruit and vegetables three times. To further add value, Mango Packaging House and Cold Storage Facilities should also be established.

They said that Pakistan possesses immense potential in mangoes because the country ranks 3rd in production. However, very nominal quantity of less than 5-per cent of mango is being exported. Pakistani Chaunsa, Sindhri and other species meet global consumer's taste.

A spokesperson of the TDAP said it made dedicated efforts to introduce Pakistani mangoes in Japanese markets and all hurdles in the way will soon be removed. TDAP has taken practical actions to exploit export potential of Agro-Food Products and launched various promotions inland and abroad.

Further, for the first time at a mass level Pakistan Horticulture Development and Export Company (PHEDC) has launched mango supply chain improvement besides export coaching programme of the widely acclaimed fruit. The programme is meant for growers and exporters of Sindh and southern Punjab which are well known to produce the world's best quality mango. It is estimated that about 35 per cent of mango is wasted through improper harvesting and post-harvest practices, which can easily be avoided. The value of mango in local as well as domestic market can be added through simple techniques of picking, desapping, lime wash, packing, transportation and grading for which the capacity of the labor force engaged in the activity needs to be upgraded through similar training programs.

A spokesman of PHDEC said experts led various sessions on handling of mango for export markets in different cities.

According to him, Pakistani mangos have great potential of becoming an important exotic fruit sold in the international market ultimately helping to boost the horticultural exports of the country given that the production and post harvest practices are aligned according to international requirements and standards.

Under the guidance of Ministry of Commerce, he said PHDEC is working on improving supply chain management of all the major exportable products through its various programmes.

He further said that Pakistan's fresh vegetables have a potential of adding sizably to the export earnings. Previously, more emphasis was given to promotional activities related to export of fruits only. PHDEC has adopted the policy of diversification of products through which equal importance is given to activities related to export of fresh vegetables and value added products, he added.

It may be noted that about 134 food export consignments have been rejected by European countries due to presence of pesticides residues, heavy metals and afro-toxin in the last three years. Most of these consignments were of chilies, spices, dry fruits, pickles and brown rice.

Experts said, "We need to have proper legislation for food quality and create a food safety authority for bringing in standardized food for local as well as export purposes."