Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif, after hearing to potentials and opportunities in the sector, has assured his full support to the historically neglected horticulture sector. During a meeting with Prime Minister on last Friday, along with other heads of chambers of commerce and industries and business groups, Waheed Ahmed Chairman of All Pakistan Fruit and Vegetable Exporters, Importers and Merchant Association (PFVA) also briefed the Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif about neglected horticulture sector, which has the same potential like other agricultural products including cotton and rice.
After listing the issues of this sector, for the first time government has realised the importance of horticulture sector for boosting national economy. "The level of interest of the government in horticulture sector may be gauged that the Prime Minister had given 20 minutes to us against the seven minutes fixed for each representative of different sectors. The PM and his cabinet members were much impressed by knowing things in the sector which previously has not been given priority," said Waheed. Adding that the PM has also promised to take required steps for bringing the sector at par with other agricultural products.
It may recall here that the government wants to chalk out a strategy along with Strategic Trade Policy Framework (STPF) 2015-18 in the light of the recommendations of the businessmen and exporters. The PM had held five-hour-long meeting with businessmen. Sharing the recommendations and brief made to the PM, Chairman PFVA informed that presently export of the world in horticulture sector is $114 billion with the average growth of 10 percent. However, Pakistan's exports are merely $644 million with the share of 0.56 percent in the international market.
Only a few products like mango, kinnow and dates are being exported by Pakistan despite growing varieties of horticultural products. With little efforts international market could be tapped for Banana, Guava, Ber, Chiko, Papaya and Jaman, he added. In vegetables category, potato was the only leading product having reasonable share the world market. However, bitter gourd, Okra, Tenda, Gourd, Cauliflower and Egg plant also exportable items.
Pakistan was also far behind the world in value-added products. It is earning $4.2 million out of $25 billion of world value-added exports of kinno juice concentrate, mango pulp, clarified apple juice concentrate, apple puree and Juices. Waheed mentioned that the top impediments in exports are high cost of production due to lower yield, poor quality of produce due to lack of R&D, lack of new verities, procedural flaws from customs and the FBR, and smuggling of fruits and vegetables through land routes to the neighbouring countries.
The international buyers mainly consider the quality of fruit, plant health, pesticide residues, contaminants, marketing standard and labelling in the export items, he added. He demanded the government to take steps as short term measures to enhance the exports in this sector. The measures include 10 percent of invoice value (FOB) to be reimbursed to exporter and 15 percent incentive of the Invoice Value (C&F) on new market exploration.
The exporter may be granted an incentive 15 percent of C&F on successful exploration of new market for three years period to meet the marketing costs. Besides, 20 percent of invoice value (FOB) should be reimbursed to exporter, he added.
"Chemicals, processing aids, packaging material etc imported for processing of value-added fruit and vegetable products (pulps, pastes, juice concentrates etc) should be exempted from custom duty. It will support juice industry through reduction of cost in raw material," chairman PFVA demanded. He informed that $50-100 million EU market requires immediate attention of the government. Policy on alarming Phyto Sanitry issues (diseases, pest, and contaminants). Waheed also suggested numbers of measures to remove impediments in the exports besides facilitating the traders and exporters to enhance export to potential and selected markets. On behalf of PFVA, he also shared five and 10 years agenda with the government.