ISLAMABAD: Locally called the king of fruits, Pakistani mangoes are a delight for enthusiasts during the summer season, when a number of varieties are available in markets throughout the country.
The fruit has also won the hearts of people living beyond the borders due to its unmatchable taste, enticing aroma and soft texture.
Considering the high global demand of mangoes despite challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic, Pakistan is expected to surpass the set export target of 150,000 metric tons this season, an official from the Ministry of Commerce said, adding that last year, the country's mango exports were 140,000 metric tons as against the target of 80,000 metric tons.
In a conversation with Xinhua, Shehzad Sheikh, chairman of the All Pakistan Fruit and Vegetable Exporters, Importers and Merchants Association, said that “although Pakistan is the sixth-largest mango producer in the world, with a production volume of about 1.8 million tonnes per year,” the country's production and exports are not up to scratch due to multiple factors.
Outdated cultivation and harvesting techniques, high cost of production, substandard cold storage facilities, transportation issues, and lack of research and development are the major hindrances to the growth of mango industry, Sheikh said.
“We are producing 2-3 tonnes of mangoes from an acre of land, whereas other countries are getting over 10 tonnes of yield with the same land... also the quality of mangoes gets affected during harvesting as the height of most mango trees in the country is about 40 feet, which should not be above 8 feet to get better and high quality production,” he said.
Experts and government officials in the country believe that Pakistan needs to enhance cooperation with China to modernise farming structures and techniques to increase mango production, produce premium quality of fruit crop and improve competitiveness in the global markets to boost exports and earn valuable foreign exchange.
China is the world's second largest producer of mangoes as it has introduced modern cultivation and pest-control methods, optimal sorting and packing technologies, improved logistics and cold chain facilities, and opened up more sales channels to enhance production and sales of the fruit, Pakistan's Federal Minister for National Food Security and Research Syed Fakhar Imam said.
“Pakistan can learn from Chinese experience to give impetus to the country’s mango industry considering its economic importance,” Imam told Xinhua. He said that China has already helped Pakistan in overcoming multiple issues that Pakistani farmers were facing by improving electricity supply and road infrastructure across the country under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
In the past, severe load shedding, especially in rural areas had greatly affected mango production as orchards get water supply from tube-wells running on electricity, said the minister. “Power projects under CPEC have greatly reduced energy woes faced by the farmers.”
Similarly, improved road infrastructure has shortened travelling time and facilitated farmers to get their produce to other cities more conveniently, he added. He said both countries should hold joint research projects and establish demonstration zones to improve the quality of mangoes so that they could be sold at a lucrative price in global markets.
Pakistani exporters believe that the country needed to secure a strong presence in the bigger and high-value international markets like China to earn high profit. In June, as part of the Pakistani government's efforts to better explore desirable destinations for the Pakistani mangoes, a chartered plane of mangoes landed in China and more are expected to enter the Chinese market this summer.
Pakistan has also held events in China in recent years to promote the new, better varieties and rich flavour of Pakistani mangoes to the Chinese people, and according to organisers, the feedback was more than encouraging.
Adeeb Ahmed Rao, a leading mango exporter and owner of the Rajput Orchard in Multan, told Xinhua that he has been cultivating around 20 to 25 varieties of mangoes including the most famous Chaunsa, Dussehri, Langra and Anwar Ratol, and exporting his produce to Gulf and European countries mostly.
“This season, I am planning to export mangoes to China as the country has a very large consumer market,” Rao said, adding that Pakistan should make every effort to grasp the Chinese market by improving the standards of production and marketing strategy.
To boost exports to other countries, the Pakistani government has been making efforts to provide special subsidies to farmers for cutting their production cost, better market strategies, reduce freight cost and introduce one-window operation for perishable fruits’ consignments to make prices competitive in the international markets.
“Pakistan can be on the list of top three exporters of mangoes in the next five years, both in terms of volume and value, if the government continues to adhere to making prudent and result-oriented policies in this regard,” the mango exporter said.
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