JULY-AUG FOOD EXPORT RISES 34PC

KANWAL SALEEM
(feedback@pgeconomist.com)

Oct 3 - 9, 2011

The export of food commodities from the country during the first two months (July and August) of current financial year registered (2011-12) an increase of 33.53 percent as against the export of same period last year.

As per date made available to PAGE, the country earned US$ 670.4 million by exporting different food commodities during the period from July to August 2011. This was recorded at US$501.9 million during the period from July to August 2010.

As per data, fruit and vegetable export from the country during the first two months of current financial year grew by 60.46 percent and 80.87 percent, respectively.

About 86,675 metric tons fruits of different varieties worth US$ 43.8 million were exported from the country, up by 60.46 percent as compared to same period of last year financial year.

About 47,340 metric ton vegetables were exported during the period under review and added US$19.42 million in national foreign accounts reserves. As compared the last year, fruit export from the country was recorded at 64,4495 metric tons and vegetable export 32,526 metric tons during the period from July to August 2011.

The export of leguminous vegetables (pulses) showed 100 percent increase as compared to the first two months of last financial year.

As per data, 900 metric tons pulses worth one million dollar were exported during the period under review. Export of other food commodities including wheat also increased by 100 percent, while the export of spices and oil seed witnessed 100 percent and 462 percent increase respectively. The export of basmati rice dropped 11.87 percent and other rice varieties slid 15.24 percent.

Russia and Ukraine have emerged as the biggest markets for Pakistani kinnow as exports to these countries have reached to 30 percent of total exports of the fruits from the country.

During the last five years, kinnow exports to Russia and Ukraine rose from almost zero to an over 100,000 tons, almost 30 percent of the total exports of the fruit.

Both the countries need smaller kinnow, for its strong taste and high sucrose content and their share is increasing every year as according to a recent study between January and April 2011, the citrus import volume in Russia marked a 29 per cent increase compared to the same period in 2010.

Pakistan needs to develop a new variety of the fruit that meets the requirements of Russia, Ukraine and possibly other East European states. Size of fruit can be controlled with management practices as well, but it would be better if the country is somehow able to develop a new variety that does not grow beyond a certain size, experts believe.

According to them, major post harvest losses are inflicted due to lack of awareness about how to deal with the fruit during picking and packing. Another factor was the lack of proper storage system, which makes the fruits vulnerable to early rotting.

They said, "There is lack of proper warehouses to store the kinnow and the existing storage lacks facilities as all fruits and vegetables are being kept in a similar temperature under one roof, which reduces the shelf-life of these fruits."

It may be noted that the fruit grows primarily in plains of Punjab province including Sargodha and Toba Tek Singh and the share of Pakistan's citrus in the world market is as low as 1.4 percent. The low export volume of the citrus fruit is due to lack of growing practices, which are not in conformity with international harvesting procedure leading to its lower demand.

Pakistan is ranked the 13th largest citrus producer in the world with an area of 1,85,000 hectares, producing 2.1 million tonnes of citrus.

Russia's fresh citrus imports have been increasing as it grows no citrus of its own. On the other hand, tea import into the country during the first two months of current financial year registered an increase of 0.96 percent as the country consumed 19,745 metric tons of tea during the period from July to August 2011. According to the figures, the country paid US$ 56.5 million to fulfill the satisfaction of the tea lovers during the period under review.

Tea import in the country was recorded at 22,187 metric tons costing US$56.0 million during the first two months (July-August) 2010, the data revealed.

Further, sugar import witnessed a declining trend as its import was decreased by 94.77 percent after soaring prices of the commodity in local markets and about 7,847 metric ton sugar costing US$ 6.1 million was imported.

Sugar import in the country was recorded at 192,855 metric tons cost US$ 117.7 million during first two month of last year.

The import of palm oil and soybean oil rose 632.72 percent and 58.88 percent respectively as about 18,728 metric tons of soybean oil and 388,437 metric tons of palm oil were imported during the period from July to August 2011. Import of soybean and palm oil was recorded at 352,696 metric tons and 192,855 metric tons respectively.