Record increase in export of fruits & vegetables despite COVID-19

Karachi, August 11, 2020: Pakistan has registered record enhancement in export of fruits & vegetables despite coronavirus global pandemic. The Financial year 2019-20 has witnessed an overall increase in export of fruits & vegetables by 12.5 percent amounting to USD 730 million which is an ever highest revenue in terms of foreign exchange generation.

During the last year the export of fruits was enhanced by 3.8 percent while the vegetables reflected an increase in export by 28 percent. Export of fruits fetched USD 431.27 Million while export of the vegetables generated USD 30 million.

Waheed Ahmed, the Patron-in-Chief, All Pakistan Fruit & Vegetable Exporters, Importers & Merchants Association (PFVA) told that at the time when the global trade was facing stiff challenges and it was almost impossible to ensure timely delivery of Pakistani fruits & vegetables to the importing countries due to the pandemic & resulting lock downs.

The PFVA translated these challenges  into  opportunity by enhancing exports of this sector (fruits & vegetables )  and  adopting realistic strategies  whereas  the Federal Govt. extended all out support & assistance to the exporters and took timely decisions in removal of barriers to the enhancement of exports.

Pakistan sensing difficulties in export by Air adopted alternative strategy to export by land routes & sea. Special attention was given to the International markets of Iran & Afghanistan and the Federal Govt. promptly resolved the issues related faced by this sector in export to Iran & Afghanistan leading to enhancement of exports.

At the time when the coronavirus global pandemic was emerging fast, the entire World was in desperate need of fruits & vegetables containing vitamins to minimize ill-effects of this pandemic, Pakistan grabbed this unique opportunity and enhanced export of Kinnow, Potato & Onion despite serious issues of transportation & logistics arising of the pandemic.

During the peak of the pandemic, Pakistan exported delicious & highly nutrient mangoes to many countries of the World. Extensive efforts by the PFVA also resulted in reduction of Air freight charges by P.I.A to Gulf countries & International market of U.A.E facilitating exporters to compete in these highly demanding & competitive markets.

Likewise, after ban on export of Onion by India, the PFVA convinced the Federal Govt. to lift the temporary restriction on export of Pakistani onion thus leading to increase in exports while price of onion & Potato remained stable in the local market as well and the growers got benefit of this stability.     

Waheed said that besides maintaining consistency in exports’ enhancement of fruits & vegetables, it’s also imperative to take necessary steps to further boost the export of this sector. To attain this objective, the PFVA has presented a comprehensive road map titled – “Horticulture Vision – 2030” to the Federal Govt. which has been developed with extensive consultation with all concerned stakeholders of the Horticulture sector of all the provinces & it spells out issues of the sector along with realistic solutions.

This policy document highlights short, medium & long term solutions of the issues and barriers , the sector is confronted with. By effective implementation of the horticulture vision, Pakistan can easily enhance export of fruits & vegetables to USD 1 billion within a period of two years, USD 2 billion in five years and to USD 6 billion in a decade.

Another encouraging aspect of this vision is provision of employment opportunities within five years to 1.8 million workforce directly engaged in this sector and to 3 million people in a period of ten years.     

The Federal Ministry of commerce (MoC) has also started consulting stakeholders for preparation of Strategic Trade Policy Framework (STPF) for next five years. To review opportunities for enhancement of export of the Horticulture sector and recommendations.

The MoC along with Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP) recently held a video conference during which recommendations were given by the PFVA from it’s “Horticulture Vision – 2030”. During this consultative meeting, the D.G., Abdul Kareem Memon of Agro & Food Division – TDAP, Bakhtayer Ahmed, Director and officials of MoC participated.

The suggestions on enhancement of export of the Horticulture sector on the basis of Short and Medium term remained focus of attention during this consultative session – Waheed informed.  The officials of MoC and TDAP were briefed by Waheed Ahmed that the current “limited fruit basket” of the Horticulture sector can be further expanded through extensive Research & development (R&D) by developing new varieties, keeping the latest modern trends of the sector in view.

By entering into Preferential and Free Trade Agreements with friendly countries, the export of this sector can be further boosted up.- Waheed shared.  We shall also get Quarantine –related issues resolved promptly with the countries having bright chances of becoming a big market for Pakistani Fruits & vegetables and thus providing yet another opportunity to further expand the perimeter of our International markets.

During briefing the officials of the MoC, Waheed suggested establishing common facilities centers for processing, packaging and storage of fruits and vegetables produced in the province of Sindh & Baluchistan.

He further added that similarly the export development fund (EDF) developed by 0.25  percent deduction on export of fruits & vegetables can be effectively utilized on Research & Development for marketing & further growth of the Horticulture sector.

Waheed shared with the participants of the consultative meeting that by adopting the tissue culture technology, we can produce the best variety of banana produced in the province of Sindh which can fetch USD one billion alone through its export. Similarly, cultivation of tomato on commercial scale as well preparation of tomato paste, we can “snatch” our share of this produce from the International market

Sharing recommendations of the Horticulture Vision, Waheed told during the consultative session of the MoC that the current export volume of fruits & vegetables can be enhanced to USD one billion within a span of two years by adopting short term plan and to USD two billion within 5 years through Medium term plan.

By enhancing yield per acre and through cultivation of the best varieties of Fruits & Vegetables the challenge of food Security can also be effectively dealt which is directly linked to the security of Pakistan.

By surplus production and through adoption of modern trends, it would assist us to maintain stable prices of fruits and vegetables in local markets enabling us to effectively handle issues of recession as well.

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