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Traders slash mango export target by 50,000 tons


May 23, 2020

KARACHI: Country’s mango exports would be down at 80,000 tons this year, compared to last year’s 130,000 tons, a drop of 50,000 tons, mostly because of the COVID-19 pandemic-led shutdown of the international markets, which dented the demand drastically, traders said on Friday.

“The current mango season is in a state of high uncertainty due to global coronavirus pandemic, and thus the export of mango is anticipated to be reduced by 40 percent in comparison to the last year,” said Waheed Ahmed, Patron-in-Chief All Pakistan Fruit & Vegetable Exporters, Importers & Merchants Association (PFVA), in a statement.

The global pandemic has led to the closure of international importing markets of Pakistani mangoes including Europe and USA. With a marked reduction in the export target this year, the revenue generation of valuable foreign exchange would equally be seriously impacted. Last year, the country’s mango exports had earned $90 million, while this year they are slated to fetch around $50 million.

Ahmed said due to the closure of airlines, tourism industry and shopping malls following a strict global lockdown, there had been a significant drop in demand of various items and mango was no exception.

“The airlines, on other hand, due to curtailment of their operations have jacked freight charges three times. The airlines that were charging Rs175/kg last year are now demanding Rs550/kg for the European destinations, while the freight charges of Rs80/kg to the Gulf countries have been hiked to Rs240/kg this year. This has multiplied the cost of the mango exports exorbitantly,” the trade association leader said.

Of the total export volume of mango, 55 percent was exported by sea, 20 percent by air, and 25 percent by land routes, but due to exorbitant increase in freight charges by the airlines, mango consignments by air were feared to fall 70 percent this year, Ahmed warned.

“On the other hand, export of mango to Iran and Afghanistan via land routes is also likely to encounter difficulties either due to global lockdown or closure of the borders for exercising precautionary measures against the pandemic,” he added.

He said the flight operations to several Pakistani mango importing countries were yet to be resumed and similarly the flights operating with “changed schedule” were also posing a serious threat to the export of mango. “Even if Pakistani traders export mango to Europe by absorbing higher freight charges, there is no guarantee that these shipments will be cleared in time and reach consumers,” he said.

Ahmed said the coronavirus pandemic had only surfaced this year, but the negative impacts of the climate change were being felt for last five years, leading to low production with mango crop now taking additional two weeks to get matured, increasing the harvesting period.

“On top of this serious challenge, the mango crops are also facing several diseases, and it seems the local mango varieties are unable to cope up with these diseases due to reduction in their natural capacity to defend against them and hence these factors have resulted in significant drop in production,” Ahmed said.

Concluding his statement, Ahmed stressed on the federal government to extend freight subsidy for exporters who export mangoes by air, to reduce their losses incurred due to higher air freight charges, enabling them to compete in international markets particularly in Europe and USA, given the pandemic situation.