TAPPING MANGO EXPORT POTENTIAL

SYED FAZL-E-HAIDER
(feedback@pgeconomist.com)

Aug
1 - 7, 2011

Pakistan is the fifth largest producer of mangoes in the world. If mango export potential is tapped fully and efficiently, the country can earn one billion dollar per year through worldwide trade.

The country exported US$30 million worth of mangoes in the fiscal year 2009-10 and it is expected that its export for fiscal year 2010-11 would be around US$30.5 million.

Mango is the second largest fruit exported from Pakistan. Its current year production was estimated at 1.7 million tons out of which 0.175 million tons were to be exported, but due to unfavorable weather both in Punjab and Sindh about 35 percent of the budding mangos were damaged.

Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP) has undertaken initiatives, which include the financial assistance to mango exporters for establishment of their offices and warehouses abroad; freight subsidy on air shipments of mangoes; financial assistance to exporters for obtaining different international certifications; sending delegations to different countries for exploring new markets and participation in international exhibitions.

Pakistan has started exporting mango to Japan after local exporters met the stringent quality standards imposed by Japan. Though first shipment from Pakistan has been sent to Japan, yet mango exports on a commercial basis to Japan would start next year for which a new vapor heat treatment plant would be installed.

Local exporters hope that the Japanese mango market could be worth $3 to $4 million for Pakistan in the next five years, as there were only a few countries which met Tokyo's quality standards.

United States, the world's largest mango importer, has also overturned a ban on imports of Pakistani mangos, but high transportation costs and strict regulations mean that few mangos are likely to make the transatlantic trip this year.

The stringent standards for export has so far blocked entry of Pakistani mango into the US, Russian and Japanese markets. The country's mangos exports target this year appears difficult to be achieved, as its production is expected to be around 1.3 million tons as against the target of 1.7 million tons.

Political unrest in the Middle East and drastic reduction in prices by $200 per ton by India have sidelined Pakistan from the international mango pulp market.

Pakistani exporters face difficulties in competing with India, which controls 70 per cent of the total international mango pulp market of 350,000 tons, because of better yield and facilities provided by the Indian government to its exporters.

The TDAP started a drive in early 2010 to make a vapor heat treatment plant provided by Japan in 1981, operational. Before the start of exports to Japan, around 400 kilograms of mango were processed in the plant.

Japan linked the opening of its market for Pakistani mango with the fulfillment of all the requirements notified under the Sanity and Phyto-sanitary (SPS) system, which had resulted into complete wiping out of the produce from the Japanese market.

The Russian government also imposed ban on import of mango from Pakistan. US sanitary and phyto-sanitary laws also blocked Pakistani mango into the US.

Pakistan faces tough competition with India in the Middle East market and the country has practically been out of the market because of the price cut by India. India is capturing the market, as Indian export price is even less than the cost of production in Pakistan.

Local analysts urge the ministry of commerce to strictly implement the rules about packaging and weight variations to regulate mango export, as underweight exports by some unscrupulous exporters brought a bad name to Pakistan. Pre-mature export compromise on quality and taste has also adversely been harming the export market.

The US Agency for International Development (USAID) has spent $3.1 million to help Pakistani mango growers get their fruits ready for export. Under USAID supervision, 80 Pakistani mango farm owners received training and funding to streamline sorting, washing, packaging and storing processes so that the fruits meet global certification standards.

American authorities have designated only one port of entry, Chicago, for Pakistani mangos; from there, the imported fruit must be shipped to a facility in Iowa for irradiation treatment to destroy bacteria and insects.

Local fruit exporters estimate that shipping and handling costs come to $22 for a case of about five pounds of mangos. Unless the exporters are given more options for shipping and irradiation destinations to bring down costs, US importers will be reluctant to make commitments.

Mango is considered the King of fruits in the subcontinent. Pakistan produces a variety of mangoes each with distinct flavor and taste. The country has highly suitable climatic conditions for mango cultivation.

The global connoisseurs of fruits have acknowledged the superior aroma and taste of Pakistani mango.

Mango enjoys second position after citrus in Pakistan. It is grown in the provinces of Punjab and Sindh. It has a prominent position among the commercial fruits of Pakistan.

The Pakistani mangoes are 2 to 10 inches long and may be kidney shaped, ovate or round. Pakistani mangoes are known for its peculiar taste and quality, attractive colors, savoring smell, and high nutritive value abroad. Different mango varieties are grown in different areas of the country.

The mango varieties grown in Punjab include Langra, Dusehri, Samar Behisht, Chaunsa, Anwar Ratol, etc. The important varieties of Sindh include Sindhri, Bagan Pali, Suwarneka, Neelum and Gulab Khas. The most popular cultivation areas of Pakistan for mangoes are Multan, Shujabad, and Mir Pur Khas.

UAE, Saudi Arabia, Oman, United Kingdom, France, Malaysia, Singapore, Afghanistan, Bahrain, Dubai, and Kuwait are the existing main mango markets for Pakistan. The new markets for Pakistani mangoes include China, Iran, South Africa, Australia, Japan, Russia, and East Europe

A few years back, Pakistan Horticulture Development and Export Board (PHDEB) devised a comprehensive plan to produce quality mango to meet international standards. The PHDEB established two irradiation plants in Lahore and Karachi. It underpinned the formation of a cooperative society for mango to promote good agriculture practices (GAP) enabling the growers to produce quality fruit in line with the global demands in Pakistan.

The board discussed issues pertaining to the functioning of the cooperative society and to formulate systematic modalities to develop mango industry in the country. The members of the cooperative society were guided to refine their agricultural practices for attainment of EUROGAP and other certifications.

There is however a need to create possible linkages for mango export to the international markets. There is also an urgent need to identify shortcomings in the fruit industry and to develop an action plan to strengthen the Pakistani horticulture sector in the domestic and international markets. The government needs to evolve a system or reliable mechanism for proper management of fruit trees in order to increase per hectare production.