$19.5m foreign exchange expected from citrus fruit export

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Zubair Yaqoob

Karachi

Export of Kinnow from Pakistan has commenced and an export target of 300,000 metric ton has been set for the current season which is expected to generate valuable foreign exchange of $19.5 million. Of the anticipated Kinnow production of 2.2 million ton, around 15-20 % would be exported.
According to Waheed Ahmed, Patron-in-Chief All Pakistan Fruit & Vegetable Exporters, Importers & Merchants Association (PFVA), keeping the huge losses sustained by the Kinnow exporters in Russian market during the previous season the exporter target for the current year has been kept 50,000 ton less compared to the last year. Due to stiff competition in the Russian market, the exporters had to export Kinnow to this International market at lower cost than its actual cost of shipments leading to huge financial losses of around $6 million in the previous Kinnow season! The exporters of Kinnow from countries of our competitors are rendered financial support by their respective Govt. while Pakistani Kinnow exporters can only wish to have such privileges from their Govt.
Waheed Ahmed stressed that to attain the export target of 300,000 metric ton, it’s imperative to have close co-ordination and co-operation among the Shipping companies, concerned Ministries and departments. If we don’t encounter any disturbances in supply or issues related to transportation, we will leave no stone unturned to even go above the set export target, Waheed assured. Since the existing Kinnow orchards have already completed their life cycle and don’t have adequate resistance to protect against effect of climatic changes and diseases, thus we are now confronted with issue of Quality hence it’s needs of the hour to harvest new varieties of Citrus fruits – Waheed disclosed.
The season of Citrus fruits is limited to a period of four months , however with production of new varieties , this period can be extended to eight months and that mean we would have a wider window of time frame for the export and thus the existing export volume can be enhanced to US$ one billion , however concerted efforts would definitely be required on Govt. level so that with extensive Research & Development (R&D) new orchards with new varieties can be established and this plan may take a period of 4-5 years . If new orchards with new varieties are not established, the existing export of Citrus fruits would be badly affected – Waheed cautioned.
Due to serious issues of quality, the Association (PFVA) has “self-imposed” ban since year 2014 on export of Kinnow to Europe. The Europe is a huge International maker for Pakistani Kinnow and can easily accommodate around 1000 containers, however to avert any likely ban by the Europe, Pakistani exporters stopped export of Kinnow to Europe. The European market offers better price of Pakistani Kinnow compared to other conventional international markets and had export of Kinnow continued to this market, the export should have enhanced by 50% – Waheed shared.
While putting great emphasis on improvement of quality and exploration of new varieties to tap the European market, , we also have to pay attention to get access to the International markets which are currently inaccessible since Pakistan does not have “Quarantine Protocols” signed with these markets otherwise future of the Citrus Industry providing employment to 3 million people would be bleak ! – Waheed feared. Waheed Ahmed stressed upon the Federal Ministry of National Food Security & Research and the provincial Govts. to initiate the process of R&D in the Horticulture sector so that serious concern over the food security can be promptly addressed. Kinnow export to Iran has been discontinued for 9 years which is yearly loss of about $40 million for Pakistan we can export around 80000-90000 tons of kinnow, it is the well concern that if Iran exports tomatoes & other fruits and vegetables to Pakistan market so why not Pakistan can get same opportunity of export for Kinnow.