PESHAWAR: Pakistan ranks 5th in the world with a total production of 1.9 million metric tons of mango annually. Due to its fragrance, color, flavor and sweetness, Pakistani mango has high demand across the world.
But the Fruit and Vegetable Export Association says that for five consecutive years, Pakistan’s total mango production has been declining. The Association said that due to climate change, the productivity of local orchards is declining as it is delaying the mango crop by two weeks, and mangoes are more susceptible to various diseases than before.
According to Waheen Ahmad, officials of the fruit and vegetables association, due to climate Change, mango production is feared to got down by 51% this year. According to Ahmed, there is lack of research work in the country to assess the adverse effects of climate change on the mango orchards. According to him, the policy should be formulated through a comprehensive research to guide the farmers.
Last year, Pakistan exported a record 130,000 metric tonnes of mangoes to the United Arab Emirates, Iran, Afghanistan, the United States, Europe and other countries by 55% by sea, 20% by air and 25% by land. The UAE is the largest buyer of Pakistani mangoes, while about 20% of total exports go to Iran. The situation is very different this year due to the Coronavirus epidemic and mango exports have been hit hard by border closures, reduced flights and increased freight.
Sheikh Imtiaz Hussain, chairman of the standing committee of the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI), told VOA Urdu that last year’s mango exports earned the country 90-95 million dollars in foreign exchange. However, this year the situation is very complicated and mango exports are expected to fall by 50%.
Hussain added that due to the epidemic and the resulting uncertainty, mango exports are likely to be 70 to 75 metric tonnes this year, that will not only reduce the country’s foreign exchange but also reduce unemployment.
Reasons for decline in mango exports
Imtiaz Hussain said that air, sea and land routes are closed due to the epidemic and the few countries for which flights are available have seen a dramatic increase in freight rates. The global market is in recession and markets are closed due to complete lockdown in many places.
He further said that the freight for the European market which was Rs 200 per kg last year has now increased to Rs 550 per kg. Similarly, the freight rate for Gulf countries has gone up from Rs 90 to Rs 250 per kg and there are no buyers.
Expressing concern over the closure of borders with Iran and Afghanistan, He said that these two countries are major markets for Pakistani mangoes. But due to the closure of the border, consignments of exporters worth Rs 400 million are on the verge deterioration. He complained that the government has not help the exporters in any way other than reducing the mark-up.
What is the situation on the Iran-Afghanistan border?
According to Waheed Ahmed, Patron-in-Chief of the All Pakistan Fruit and Vegetable Export Association, which has recently acted as a bridge between the government and mango exporters, mango exports to Iran and Afghanistan have started by land. Ahmad said that the national airline has assured the mango exporters of discounted freight and better facilities to Manchester, Frankfurt and London, after which mango exports to European countries by air are expected to resume soon. However, Ahmed said that despite these measures, mango exports from Pakistan would remain at a maximum of 80,000 metric tonnes this year.