KARACHI: Mango exporters will start sending their merchandise abroad from May 20 and hope to export at least 0.1 million tonnes of mangoes this year, in return for $75 million in foreign exchange. The country’s total mango production is expected at 1.6 million tonnes this year.
Besides targeting traditional markets, exporters will also try to tap new markets in China, Russia, Iran, Belarus and Middle Eastern countries. In the absence of the much-needed VHT plant, however, the Japanese market will remain untapped for the third consecutive year.
Waheed Ahmed, the chairman of Pakistan Fruit and Vegetable Exporters, Importers and Merchants Association (PFVA), recalled missing last year’s export target of 100,000 tonnes due to a 40 per cent drop in mango production. Exporters hardly shipped 72,000 tonnes last year, which was the lowest figure achieved in the last five years.
Pakistan has been exporting mangoes to UAE, Saudi Arabia, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, Canada, Europe and Scandinavian countries for many years. Recently, markets like South Korea, Japan, China, USA and Australia have opened for Pakistani mangoes. However, due to a lack of research and development practices, exporters have been facing difficulties in competing with other mango-producing countries in quality and standards.
Mr Ahmed said the vapour heat treatment (VHT) plant, which has already been imported with an investment of millions of rupees, is lying idle for the last three years as the concerned institution has yet to install it. The dysfunctional VHT plant is depriving the country of the highly-valued Japanese market where Pakistani mangoes could be sold at $4 per kg.
By treating mangoes at the VHT plant, Pakistan can initially export more than 400 tonnes to Japan, increasing the volume to thousands of tonnes in the future. Apart from Japan, the door has also been opened for Pakistani mangoes in China, USA and Australia but these markets are inaccessible until our fruit becomes compatible with that of other countries.
He said the Iranian market has been opened for Pakistani mangoes after a break of several years amidst international sanctions on Tehran. Besides, the PFVA is trying to tap the Chinese market in coordination with the government.
A delegation of Chinese quarantine experts is coming to Pakistan this season. Two export firms in Pakistan have so far been allowed to export mangoes to China by the Chinese Quarantine department while PFVA is making efforts to get the approval for other firms too.