KARACHI: Decisions of far-reaching consequence were taken to meet the sanitary, phyto-sanitary and quarantine requirements for mango exports to the European Union at a meeting summoned by the Ministry of National Food Security & Research (NFS&R) in Islamabad on May 9.
In fact the ban imposed by European Union on the import of mangoes from India until December 2015 has come as a wake-up call for the authorities here.
Taking it as a warning, authorities have stepped up measures to ensure that such a situation is not faced in case pest and fruit flies are found in mangoes exported from Pakistan.
Waheed Ahmed, spokesman, All Pakistan Fruit and Vegetable Exporters, Importers and Merchants Association (PFVA), said the ban on Indian mangoes should not be taken as an opportunity to increase export of Pakistani mangoes to fill in the gap, rather, he said it should be taken as a warning because “we could also meet the same fate if our mangoes are found pest and fruit fly infested.” It should be our endeavour to ensure that our mangoes are healthy and acceptable to stall getting bad name in the EU market. The emphasis should be on quality and not quantity, he said.
The meeting in Islamabad was presided over by Seerat Asghar Jaura, Secretary, NFS&R and attended by exporters, growers, traders and stakeholders. After long deliberations and discussions it was decided that only Department of Plant Protection (DPP) approved farms and pack houses would be allowed to export mangoes without Hot Water Treatment (HWT).
In order to ensure pest and fruit fly free mango farms, Department of Plant Protection has started vigorous monitoring and DPP officials have so far visited 34 farms in Sindh and 36 in Punjab respectively to check that the fruit meets the required standard.
Out of the 34 farms visited in Sindh only one was approved and the remaining 33 were given a week’s time to upgrade their farms according to the prescribed quarantine standard. The approval of these farms would depend if these are found pest free and are up to the mark after one week.
Similarly, out of the 36 farms visited in Punjab, 12 were approved and 19 were asked to adopt Standard operating Procedure (SoP) whereas five were rejected.
It was discussed in the meeting that the charges for HWT would be brought down to Rs 10 per kg from Rs 13 per kg.
Waheed Ahmed suggested that packaging of mangoes should be restricted to 2, 3, 4, and 5kg box instead of the present one and a half, 2, 3, and three and a half-kg box.
He said that an awareness seminar will be held in Multan on May 24, on the lines held recently in Hyderabad to educate stakeholders on the latest sanitary and phyto-sanitary requirements of European Union. The seminar will be attended by growers, exporters, traders and merchants. Main emphasis would on educating the participants inherent in diseased mangoes and benefits of pest and fruit fly free mangoes.