THIS year’s mango exports began last month on an optimistic note as exporters reportedly secured supply orders of $1.1m from first five days’ sale.
Exports to traditional markets such as Saudi Arabia, UAE, Central Asia, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, Canada, Europe and Scandinavia are in full swing. However, new markets like South Africa, Japan, the US, Russia and Australia, which were recently opened for the Pakistani mango are highly competitive.
Exporters hope to earn $75mn this year by exporting 100,000 tonnes – a target which was missed last year due to a 40pc drop in mango production. Foreign sales of 72,000 tonnes then were the lowest in the last five years. The total mango production this year is expected to be 1.6m tonnes.One reason for better performance is the ban on use of wooden boxes for fruit and vegetable exports.
Exporters hope to earn $75m this year by exporting 100,000 tonnes — a target which was missed last year due to a 40pc drop in mango production.
A sore point in Pakistan’s impressive show this season is that Iran has been supplied a consignment of infected mangoes. There are fears that the incident may lead to a ban or a partial ban on mango exports to the friendly neighbour.
Exporters can hardly afford to lose Iran because it buys 25pc of all the mangoes Pakistan sells abroad. One may note that the Iranian market opened for Pakistani mangoes after the withdrawal of the West’s sanctions on Tehran.
The report of an inquiry ordered by Federal Minister for Food Security Sikandar Hayat Bosan into the unfortunate incident has revealed that fake phytosanitary certificates were issued from Multan for mangoes destined for Iran.
Only 25 baskets of 20-22 kg each were brought to the hot water treatment plant. Product inspection by an expert committee along with hot water treatment at 48-degree centigrade for at least 60 minutes is mandatory for the phytosanitary certificate. The inquiry officer, in his concluding remarks, says that the certificates were issued without HWT and even without inspection of the product by the entomologist, DPP outpost, Multan.
This happened despite the fact that three consignments of Pakistani mangoes were intercepted last year by Iranian officials as the fruit was found infected with fruit flies. The neighbouring country has already banned kinnow imports from Pakistan for the same reason.
A delegation of the Iranian quarantine department is to visit Pakistan soon to inspect the working of hot water treatment plants which are now 29 compared to last year’s three. Iran will decide about its future stance after going through the delegation’s report.
Similarly, three consignments of Pakistani mangoes were intercepted in Europe last year. The UK Customs took hold of two consignments of 4,490kg with live fruit fly larvae on July 14 and 15.
Another shipment, weighing 5,200kg, was intercepted in Holland on June 14. Had two more similar interceptions taken place, Pakistan would have faced a ban on its mango exports to EU and met a fate similar to that of India.
The European Commission, through a notification on March 27 in 2014, banned imports from India and also warned Pakistan about such an eventuality if safety measures were not instituted to ensure pest-free exports.
The exports were resumed after negotiations between the two sides with the EU officials clarifying that the maximum limit of five interceptions for mango or any other agricultural commodity will only be for the remaining part of the current season and the count will restart from zero next year; there shall be no ban on export from Pakistan.
Meanwhile, a delegation of Chinese quarantine officials is currently visiting Pakistan on to inspect the working of hot water treatment operations at the plants concerned, although there has been no unpleasant incident in their country regarding Pakistani mangoes. They visited three different orchards in lower Sindh to assess the quality of these facilities as part of a nationwide inspection drive.
China had earlier allowed imports of Pakistani citrus fruits and mangoes after being satisfied with cold and HWT facilities. Now they are inspecting a few more such facilities.
They will submit their findings about the 14 HWT facilities they have visited, including three in lower Sindh, four in Karachi, three in Lahore and four in Multan.