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Earning $1 Bn from horticultural exports

Earning $1 Bn from horticultural exports

With a view to raising exports of its horticultural products to one billion dollars over the next 3-4 years, Pakistan has geared efforts to adopting international standards and observing stringent quality control measures during several stages of the production, processing, packing and export of all types of its horticultural products, including mangoes.

The authorities have advised the exporters of horticultural products to take appropriate steps for meeting the requirements of sanitary and phytosanitary in the importing countries. According to Pakistan Fruit and Vegetable Exporters, Importers and Merchants Association (PFVA), the authorities have informed PFVA that this year the export of mangoes and other horticultural products to the European Union (EU) would not be allowed without hot water treatment.

Before clearing any shipment for export, the Quarantine Department would inspect and satisfy itself about the application of hot water treatment to all horticultural products, including mango fruits. This step is being taken to forestall the possibility of any ban on the export of mango fruit to the EU countries. Recently, the EU has put a ban on five varieties of the fruit from India after detecting pest in the Indian mangoes. PFVA have also advised the exporters to ensure to exclude bruised, deformed in shape or injured fruits from their consignments for overseas markets.

At present, there exist, in Pakistan, 12 hot water treatment plants, nine in Punjab and three in Karachi. Obviously, this number is insufficient to meet the current requirements of the country for HWT treatment. The country, therefore, needs to increase its capacity for HWT treatment by installing more plants in various parts of the country immediately. Hot water treatment is one of the three major treatments for mangoes. The other two are VHT and Irradiation treatments.

Hot water technology and processing by mechanical plants has increased the shelf life of the mango fruit up to 40 days by making the pulp of the fruit free from nine bacteria elements. Increase in shelf life of the fruit, it is believed, would help in increasing the export of Pakistani mangoes, earning more foreign exchange for the country and becoming instrumental in the expansion of its agro-based sector.

Pakistan has some of the sweetest mangoes in the world. With a total production of over 1.80 million tons, globally Pakistan is the sixth largest producer of mango fruit. However, its exports of the fruit are relatively low compared to the country’s actual potential. Pakistan exported 150,000 tons of mango last year, earning about $55 million in foreign exchange. In 2012, Pakistan exported 118,000 tons mangoes for $36 million. The EU has appeared as one of major markets for Pakistan mangoes. Last year, Pakistan exported 24,000 tons of mangoes to the EU, which accounted for 16 percent of its total exports. However, this year the export of Pakistani mangoes to the EU market may drop because of HWT treatment and lack of the country’s capacity to meet this condition, but in the long run it would help Pakistan in filling the vacuum created due to ban imposed by the EU on the import of Indian mangoes.

These figures show that though the export of this fruit is rising it still remains less than 10% of the country’s total production. The export of the mango fruit from Pakistan commences in June and culminates in October every year; while the target for export is usually set in the first week of May for each calendar year.

Globally, the USA, EU and the Netherlands figure among the top three mango importing destinations, and their imports stand around 297,499 metric tons, 228,864 and 127659 metric tons respectively. Brazil and Peru meet some 99 per cent of the demand for mangoes in the USA. Other leading importers of the fruit are UK 55,797 metric tons, Germany 51,865 metric tons, Saudi Arabia 99,069 metric tons, France 32, 211 metric tons, UAE 56,150 metric tons, Japan 11,669 metric tons, Belgium 20,834 metric tons, and Portugal 16,231 metric tons.

The flesh of mango is peach-like and juicy. It is rich in sugar and acid. The mango fruit has best flavour if allowed to ripen on the tree. When ripe, the fruit is entirely pale green or yellow marked with red. The quality of the fruit is based on taste and scarcity of fiber. Pakistan is the house of some fine varieties of mangoes, which are known for their good aroma, excellent taste and almost total absence of fiber content.

Among over 150 varieties of mango fruit produced in Pakistan, the choicest varieties are: Samar Bahisht (Paradise’s fruit), Fajree, Chaunsa, Super Langra, Shan-e-Khuda (God’s magnificence), Anwar Ratol, Lahoti, Ratool, Sindhri, Alfanso, Dusehri, RoosiDulhan (Russian bride), Lab-e-Mashooq (Darling’s Lips), Lab-e-Habshi (Negroe’s Lips), Shaheed-e-ZamZam and TotaPari. Some other varieties include: Kala Pahar (Black mountain), Ghulab-e-Khas (Special rose), SalehBhai, Al-Khausa, Neelum, BaiganPhelli, Seroli and Batasha. Amongst these, Chaunsa and Sindhri have great potential for hitting the US and EU supermarkets.

Till recently, Pakistan’s focus has remained limited to exporting mangoes to the United Kingdom and some Middle Eastern countries. In the last three years, Pakistan has discovered new markets and exported its mangoes to a couple of new countries, including China, Jordan, Mauritius, South Korea, Japan and Lebanon. In addition to trial shipment of mango fruit to Australia, mango shows were also organized in Malaysia and Singapore last year.

With a little effort, the experts believe, the country can appear as one of the leading mango exporting country on the globe. The major constraint to the expansion of market for Pakistani mangoes has been related to the country’s inability to supply competitively priced high quality mangoes in a significant and consistent manner, in keeping with the international standards and demands of the supermarket chains.

To meet international standards and reduce the threat of pests, experts in the private sector recommend that the government should make it compulsory for the growers to hang fruit fly catchers in their farms, and also use sprays and other biological methods.

In the entire South Asia Sub-Continent, people relish mangoes and nostalgically refer to it as the ‘king of fruits.’ In fact, the fondness for mangoes in the South Asia is deep-rooted, and as old as the history of human civilization. No section or community, including the royalty, the elite, the intellectuals, the men of letters, is immune from craving for this highly nutritious fruit. One and all relish the mangoes. It also finds mention in the Punjabi, Sindhi and Hindi folklore.

The rich folk hold mangoes as a good dessert; while it constitutes an integral part of the diet of villagers during the summer and monsoon seasons in Pakistan. People who go out for picnics during the monsoon season never forget to carry some mangoes with them. On such occasions, the youth also hold mango-eating contests. In short, in Pakistan, as in many other regions of the world, people greatly relish the fruit and its products.

Mangoes not only sweeten the economy and dining table in a variety of ways, they also provide jobs to millions of people from farms to export houses. From the early stages till it ripens, mango is processed into pickles (Achar, Chatney and Murabba), jams, jellies, nectars, juice, syrups and mango pudding and it involves millions of people, including growers, transporters, retailers, vendors, juice and ice-cream makers and exporters, throughout Pakistan. Taste-wise, it is one of the best fruits, which provides dozens of tastes and attracts people of all ages – from tiny tots to the aged people bordering 100.

Rich in a variety of phytochemicals and nutrients, mango fruit qualifies as a super fruit of high health value. It is high in prebiotic dietary fiber, vitamin C, polyphenols, and provitamin carotenoids. The antioxidant vitamins A, C and E comprise 25%, 76% and 9.0% respectively of the Dietary Reference Intake in a 165-gram serving.

New research studies have shown that polyphenols chemical found in mango can help cure some forms of cancers, including colon, chest, lungs, bone-marrow and prostrate. According to Dr. S. Tailcoat and her husband, mango pulp, juice, peel and seed can create resistance against cancer. These research findings are likely to result in increasing the demand for mango fruits manifold.

By Alauddin Masood, WEEKLY PULSE MAGAZINE, May 05, 2014

About Taimoor

Taimoor is the Digital Content Lead at www.RightJobs.pk . He has been working at prominent media outlets for several years. He blogs at several websites about current affairs, religion, careers and other walks of life.

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