Published: May 17, 2016

The export of mango is all set to kick off by May 20th, however in the absence of the much-needed VHT plant, Japanese market will remain untapped for third consecutive years, leading exporters said. Exporters have set a target of 0.1 million tonnes exports this year with an expected earning of over $75 million foreign exchange for the country. Exporters, besides targeting traditional markets, will also try to tap new markets such as China, Russia, Iran, Belarus and Middle Eastern countries. However, exports to Japan will remain suspended this year due to absence of the VHT plant. According to Waheed Ahmed, Chairman, Pakistan Fruit and Vegetable Exporters, Importers and Merchant Association (PFVA), VHT plant, which has already been imported with millions of rupees investment, is still idle for three years as the concerned institutions are yet to install it. The dysfunctional VHT plant is depriving the country of highly valuable Japanese market where Pakistani mango could be sold at $4 per kg. Treating mango at the VHT plant, Pakistan can initially export more than 400 tonnes to Japan, increasing the volume to thousands in future, he said and added that apart from Japan, doors have also been opened for Pakistani mango in China, United States and Australia but these markets are inaccessible until our fruit becomes compatible with the same of other countries. "We need to focus on research and development improving quality of fruit as per the demand for the international markets," he said. Waheed said the country had not met the previous target of exports for drastic reduction in production of mango followed by climatic hazards. Due to some 40 percent decline in domestic production export target of 100,000 tons was not achieved in the last seasons and exporters could hardly exported 72,000 tons mango last year, lowest exports achieved in last 5 years. As the weather is better than previous year, mango production is expected to be 1.6 million tonnes this year, he maintained. "UAE, KSA, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, Canada, European & Scandinavian countries are major importing points of Pakistani mango and recently markets like South Korea, Japan, China, USA and Australia have opened for Pakistani mangoes but due to lack of Research & Development practices we have been facing difficulties in competing with other mango producing countries in quality and standards," he added. He said the Iranian market has been opened for Pakistani mango after years following international sanctions on Tehran. Besides, PFVA is trying to tap the Chinese market in co-ordination with the government. A delegation of Chinese quarantine experts is coming to Pakistan this season to check the quality and processing procedure. Similarly, two export firms in Pakistan have so far been allowed to export mango to China by the Chinese Quarantine Department while PFVA is doing its best to get the approval for other firms too. Chairman PFVA expressed his satisfaction over the successful drive to avoid risk of ban in European market as warned by the EU in case Pakistan fails to meet the quality standard of their market. He, however, said the previous level of export to these markets was yet to be restored. PFVA has sent proposals to the Ministry of Commerce and if these proposals are accepted, export to the EU could be enhanced from 6,000 to 10,000 tons this season. He said the association is extending all possible support to growers and traders to improve the quality of mango and its presentation with applying state of the art packaging and processing methods. The association is also organising seminars and workshop for creating awareness in growers and people associated with the business of fruits and vegetables. He stressed on cooperation among concerned ministries, departments, shipping firms, airlines, Customs and exporting firms to ensure maximum and qualitative export of mango this year.