Pakistani exporters push govt for mandarin boost
Pakistan's coming kinnow mandarin season has got off to a promising start with expectations of a 39% year-on-year rise to 300,000 metric tons (MT).
Harvest Tradings chief executive officer Ahmad Jawad, told www.freshfruitportal.com more than 200 packing houses swung into action last month,and is set to produce about 8,000MT a day until the close of the season at the beginning of April.
Jawad said Pakistan's treasury stood to receive up to US$200 million from the industry if it could hit the 300,000MT figure, but called on the goverment to help establish proper banking channels for two key markets, Russia and Iran.
"I am optimistic that soon we will get these protocols because right now most of the exports are on a commission basis selling it to the market with the dealer taking 5% in commission," he said
He explained if international banking protocols between Pakistan, Russia and Iran could be created then it would offer greater security on a larger volume.
"Banks should offer a guarantee from both parties which means you can increase volumes and exports across the board. When the bank is not a guarantor then you are more restricted. I can't export to anyone because it's less secure."
Currently, 50% of Pakistani kinnow mandarin exports go to Russia and the Middle East, although United Nations sanctions against Iran are posing extra hurdles.
Jawad is passionate about developing new markets and would like to see the government more actively engaged with overseas trade delegations to promote the fruit.
"Kinnow mandarins taste delicious and we need the government to help us increase export volumes. Over the next year, for example, the government could help us add three to four new export countries for the industry."
Bangladesh, Eastern Europe, Indonesia and Malaysia have recently emerged as strong buyers. Earlier this year Indonesia agreed to scrap its 25% import duty in return for the Pakistani government reducing palm oil import duties.
Jawad said Pakistan also hopes to tap into the European market once the country starts producing seedless kinnow mandarin varieties.
Pakistani agricultural scientists are working hard on the mass production of seedless kinnow fruit in Pakistan, which Jawad would like to see materialize within the next three years.
"Once the seedless varieties start bearing fruit, it will help generate precious and much-needed foreign exchange for the country which could go up to US$1 billion extra through export."
Pakistan ranks 13th in the world as a citrus producer, with an area of 185,000 hectares, producing 1.7 million tons of citrus with 5% increase every year in production.
Brazil is the largest citrus producer (20%), followed by the U.S. (14%), and China (12 12%). Pakistan is the world's sixth-largest producer of kinnow mandarins which account for 95% of Pakistani's citrus production.
According to Jawad, Pakistani should learn from other countries such as Chile, the Netherlands and Thailand who have multiplied their horticultural exports over the last few years.
"With Pakistani's natural fertile land and temperate seasons we should be able to increase our citrus exports to 20-30% of our domestic production."
Photo: Harvest Tradings