KARACHI – Exporters of fruit and horticulture items have suggested public-private partnership scheme for setting up fruit processing plants, especially in rural areas, to enhance fruit exports of the country.
Addressing a seminar organised by a group of exporters, they said Pakistan is producing more than 30 varieties of fruits in its varied climatic zones hence is best positioned to make optimum of it for the national economy.
They regretted that citrus, mango, date, apple and banana grown in the country hold certain international recognition yet only a small fraction of these fruits are exported due to lack of storage and processing facilities.
In the given situation, they sought government support for provision of processing plants coupled with grading and packing facilities of fresh fruits to improve their export prospects. Former chairman Standing Committee FPCCI and horticulture expert, Ahmad Jawad said that setting up of fruit processing plants in rural areas will bring immense benefits to the economy as it will help in value addition to fruits, improve exports, create employment opportunities and uplift the standard of fruit producers and exporters.
He said the government should introduce latest fruit processing technology in the country in collaboration with public-private partnership to capture better market share of fruit products in Russia, Europe, Central Asian States and other world markets. Jawad said it is often said that share of agriculture in Pakistan’s GDP has reduced to less than one-fourth, which is partly right and partly wrong.
The key reason is that the country has failed in achieving higher value additions in the sector, he regretted mentioning that with the reduction in average income of rural population there has been huge migration to urban areas, which has its own repercussions. Therefore, there is a need to redefine policies governing agriculture sector, the sooner the most appropriate policies are introduced the better it will be for Pakistan.
Not only that the country will achieve food security but billions of dollars would be earned through export of value-added products but also 40% produce that goes stale before reaching the market could be avoided, said the seasoned businessman.
Elaborating his stance, he said wastage also happens due to absence of farm-to-market roads and highly inadequate transport and storage facilities. “Even if half of this quantity is saved not only income of growers will increase substantially but more importantly export of surplus quantities can help in earning billions of dollars,” said other horticulturists present in the meeting.
Jawad quoted that export of mango and kinnow has remained far below its potential because the fruits could not be processed according to the requirements of importing countries. It was pointed out that these two precious fruits are produced in huge quantities and even after export substantial quantities are leftover one of the best approaches could be to produce pulp and concentrated juices of these fruits, pack these and ensure availability throughout the year. Let one point be kept in mind that higher demand for produce will encourage growers to improve production and yield, said the experts.
However it is not a secret that average yield of different crops in Pakistan is nearly half of the yield achieved globally, they pointed out and identified deficiency of nutrients in cultivable land, inadequate supply of irrigation water and bad crop management as the major cause of the situation. They said nutrient contents of land can be improved through crop rotation as well as balanced use of fertilizers.
Jawad also reminded the policy planners that persistent and substantial increase in gas tariff applicable on fertilizer units has been responsible for the hike in urea and DAP in the country. Since fertilizer companies don’t get pipeline quality gas tariff must be capped and gas from Mari and other fields producing low BTU gas should only be used for urea production.
He mentioned that there are ample opportunities to substantially increase production of almost all the crops in the country, focus on two cash crops i.e. cotton and sugarcane can help in doubling country’s GDP.
Source: The Nation