S.KAMAL HAYDER KAZMI,
Research Analyst, PAGE
Jan 9 - 15, 2012
Horticulture produces have huge demands in international markets. This is evident in high growth of exports of fruits and vegetables from Pakistan. There is an ever increasing demand in the existing and new international markets.
Fruits that are in demand due to their varieties and rich flavor include mangoes, citrus (kinnow), grapes, dates, apples, peaches and cherries. Other prominent fruits that have enormous export potential are plums, pears, guavas and loquats.
Pakistan enjoys the distinction of being the fourth largest exporter of mango in the world. With a little more effort, the country can become a leading mango exporting country.
The total quantity of mangoes exported during the season represents less than five per cent of the total production which stood at 1.7 million tons. This was despite the fact that the demand for Pakistani mangoes and mango products was constantly on the rise in overseas markets, particularly in China, UK and UAE. Experts believe that there exists a huge export potential of about 35 to 40 per cent of total production.
The major constraint to the expansion of the market for Pakistani mangoes has, till recently, been related to the country's inability to supply competitively priced high quality mangoes in a significant and consistent manner, in line with the demands of supermarket chains. At present, there are no heat treatment and cold storage facilities in the country to improve the shelf life of the products.
Pakistan is also the largest producer of 'Citrus Reticula' variety (Kinow). This unique variety of citrus is indigenous to this part of the world. According to an estimate, approximately 95 per cent of the total kinows produced all over the world is grown in Pakistan.
About 94 per cent of citrus production area is in Punjab, 2.3 per cent in Sindh, 2.4 per cent in the Khyber Paktunkhwa, and 1.3 per cent in Balochistan out of the total 1,71,000 hectares.
In total production of 17,02,800 tons, the share of Punjab is 95.5 per cent, Sindh 1.6 per cent, KPK 2.2 per cent, and Balochistan 0.7 per cent. Punjab's share is the biggest due to its climate. Sargodha, Sahiwal, and Toba Tek Singh are major citrus producing districts in Punjab.
Though Pakistan is the fifth largest kinow exporting countries, its average yield per hectare is 9.2 tons per hectare. It reflects poor exploitation of production potentials.
Pakistan is the second largest guava producer after India. Guava is grown in all the provinces over an area of 58,000 hectares with production of 468,000 tons.
Guava production increased from 19,000 tons in 1958 to 552,000 tons in 2008 with an annual growth rate of 6.9 per cent. The major destinations of Pakistani guava are UAE, UK, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Canada, which is the largest importer of guava from Pakistan accounting for 26 per cent of the total guava exports of the country.
The major guava growing areas are Kasur, Lahore, Sangla Hills, Gujranwala in Punjab; Kohat, Haripur and Bannu in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa; and Larkana and Hyderabad in Sindh. District Sheikupura alone contributes 5,427 acres for the cultivation of guava.
Guava exports reached Rs1 billion during 2011, which could further be increased if value addition through processing plants is undertaken.
Guavas are grown almost entirely for fresh consumption, but international market for fresh guavas is small. Therefore, usually processed guavas are exported such as juices and nectars, jams and jellies, fruit paste, canned whole and halves in syrup.
The government is launching a model project of date processing plant in Sindh to enhance dates export by 60 per cent. Pakistan horticulture development and export company (PHDEC) signed an agreement in July 2010 with Sindh board of investment (SBOI) to launch the project in Khairpur district.
The required procedure of public-private partnership is still under process, which is expected to be completed soon by the SBOI and the land has been acquired in this regard by the Sindh government.
The ministry had provided Rs20 million for the model project through the export development fund. It is estimated that the plant would have capacity to process 3,000 to 3,500 tons of dates per season. During the process, the dates would be fumigated, cleaned, washed, dried and graded and then finally be packed.
Pakistani dates exports can be enhanced to between $200 million and $240 million per annum with proper processing and packaging. Currently, the country earns around $28 million from its exports, which does not reflect the real potential of this sector.
The demand of Pakistani fruits is enormous in the international markets. A big chunk of 25 per cent goes waste on account of poor management during harvesting, transportation, packaging, and storage. There is a need to follow the well established production technology, improve post harvesting, packaging, transportation, and storage facilities.
More recently, exports of fruits to Iran practically stopped following the United Nation's sanctions on the neighboring country. Following the sanction, state bank of Pakistan also stopped issuing E-forms to the exporters causing huge losses to them.