KARACHI: The federal government has announced a cash incentive scheme for Kinnow (Orange) farmers aimed at producing quality products and enhancing its exports.
“We will give cash prizes to the orange farm owners, which will make efforts to keep their orchards free of virus particularly “canker”.
Financial reward scheme will be initiated from the next season,” said Sikandar Hayat Khan Bosan, Federal Minister for National Food Security and Research, at the sideline of the first-ever Kinnow Exporters Award ceremony held in Sargodha, which is known as home for the citrus fruit.
In an exemplary way to encourage all contributors of a big achievement in the horticulture sector, all stakeholders from growers to exporters of Kinnow celebrated the over 0.35 million tons of export and a very impressive Orange Exporters Award ceremony was held in Sargodha during the last week. The award ceremony was organised by Pakistan Fruits and Vegetable Exporters, Importers and Merchants Association (PFVA) in collaboration with Department of Plant Protection (DPP). At the ceremony, awards were distributed among farmers, exporters, government officials, clearing agents and media persons to appreciate their efforts for achieving all time high citrus exports during this season.
Addressing the ceremony, the federal minister emphasized on the growers to leave the traditional way of production and go for the new and scientific ways of farming to earn better revenue. He said that government will support every effort to apply the modern ways of growing Kinnow and other fruits and vegetables in the country.
“Pakistan’s agricultural products have so many threats and there is a need to make joint efforts to prevent our products from dangerous viruses like canker and in order to encourage these efforts from the next season government will give cash reward to top-ten orange farm owners, which farms will be free of any disease,” he added.
He said that on the recommendation of Ministry of National Food Security and Research, the government is also considering removing 17 percent general sales tax on agriculture inputs to reduce costs, increase outputs and facilitate the growers and farmers. A high level committee has already been setup to review these suggestions, he added
“We believed that agricultural sector is the leading sector and its better output can enhance GDP growth, therefore government is committed to provide all necessary facilities, besides reducing cost of production to achieve a better output in the agriculture sector,” the minister said.
Addressing the ceremony, Waheed Ahmed of PFVA claimed that apart from the historic success by exporting some 0.35 million tons Kinnow, there is serious apprehension that routine and traditional way of production, processing and packaging will no longer help us to enhance Kinnow exports in the international markets. “Only new varieties of disease free Kinnow can compete in the lucrative markets and earn more foreign exchange,” he added.
In order to compete in the world market the government and stakeholders are needed to make their all efforts for Research and Development (RD) in the Kinnow sector ensuring application of new techniques of farming, processing, packaging and others, he said.
“One billion dollars worth export of Kinnow is not a big task in near future, if the required steps are taken through long term planning for the growth of the sector,” Waheed added
He said that that not only fresh fruits but also value-added products would also contribute considerably to the country’s economy and can earn billions of dollars foreign exchange, besides providing new job opportunities.
Calling for special fund allocation for the research and development in the next federal budget, he also announced that his fellow exporters will contribute $100 per container for the Research and development in Kinnow sector aimed at introducing new verities and keep the product virus free.
“Presently, Pakistan’s Kinnow is suffering from a dangerous disease “canker” and we can lose our international markets, if measurers were not taken to control this disease,” he warned.
He said that Pakistan’s agricultural had the potential to earn over $7 billion annually through exports, however concrete efforts and research is required to achieve this goal.
Seerat Asghar, Secretary Ministry of National Food Security and Research, informed the participants about government’s efforts to avoid expected ban on Pakistani Kinnow in international markets, besides ensuring export of quality fruits this year. He said that after the Russia, China’s market has also opened for Pakistani Kinnow and from the next season Pakistani Kinnow will be available there.
“We were unable to export kinnow to the European Union this season because of strict quality checks and Russia remained the biggest market for the citrus fruit,” he informed.
Addressing the event, Director General DPP Dr Mubarak Ahmed said that during the registration process, a survey was conducted in 311 orange farms and not a single form was free of “Canker” disease, which is a major threat to Kinnow exports. Despite disease issues, Pakistan has exported some 350,000 tons Kinnow, which mean the exports could be doubled in next couple of year by preventing farms from diseases like Canker, he added.
Addressing the mega event, Aslam Pakhai of PFVA and former chairman Abdul Malik, representatives of growers, traders, transporters, exporters and those associated with processing and packaging expressed their resolve to produce quality fruits keeping in view the standard-conscious markets of the Western countries. The participants pledged that the efforts to export quality fruit will be continued in future.