KARACHI: Kinnow export is suffering huge losses, as 100 percent examination by the custom authorities is delaying the consignments and damaging the fruit quality, said an exporter.
Co-Chairman All Pakistan Fruit and Vegetable Importers, Exporters and Merchants Association Waheed Ahmed told The News that one container that reached Dubai on December 6 was 50 percent damaged, causing a loss of $20,000. “If a container gets damaged by 50 percent in reaching Dubai, what will be its position when it reaches Russia after one month?”
Nearly 50 containers worth Rs80 million were rejected because of the delay caused by custom authorities, he said. Ahmed said that under new mechanism adopted at the ports, even consignments of perishable fruits were examined fully. Consignments of kinnow to Russia, Ukraine, Middle East and Gulf states were rejected because of the delay, which cost huge loss to the exporters, he said.
In order to keep the fruit fresh, kinnows were exported in refrigerated containers at 4 degree Celsius, he said. But those containers were also opened, which changed the temperature and damaged the fruit, he complained.
He warned if consignments of fruits were checked in that way, the country would fail to achieve target of 300,000 tons of kinnow export, which would result in huge losses of foreign exchange earning.
The country already suffers post-harvest losses every year owing to lack of adequate facilities and proper training of picking and packing, say farm producers. The major post-harvest losses are caused because of lack of awareness about how to deal with the fruit during picking and packing. Another factor is the lack of proper storage system, which makes the fruit vulnerable to early rotting.
There is lack of proper warehouses to store the kinnow and the existing storage systems lack facilities as all fruit and vegetables are kept at the same temperature under one roof, which reduces the shelf-life of several of them.
A farm producer said that initiatives were taken to encourage farmers to utilise the proper techniques of picking and packing. He stressed the need for developing proper storage for kinnow preservation.
Kinnow has become one of the major export items within the fruit group. The fruit grows primarily in plains of Punjab, including Sargodha and Toba Tek Singh. But the share of Pakistan’s citrus in the world market is as low as 1.4 percent. The export volume of the citrus fruit remains low on account of growing practices that are not in conformity with international harvesting procedures.
Pakistan is ranked the 13th largest citrus producer in the world with production of 2.1 million tonnes of citrus. It is grown on an area of 185,000 hectares.
Russia’s fresh citrus imports are on the rise. Russia and Ukraine have emerged as the biggest markets for Pakistani kinnow in the recent years. In a matter of five years, their share have increased from almost nil to over 100,000 tons, around 30 per cent of the total exports. Both these states need smaller kinnow, which they consume with liquor for its strong taste and high sucrose content. “Their share is increasing every year,” he said.
All efforts have so far been concentrated on increasing the size and improving the look of the fruit because Pakistan’s traditional markets in the Middle East and the Far East demand bigger size. “For the purpose, Pakistan needs to develop a new variety of seed that meets the requirements of Russia, Ukraine and possibly other East European states,” he said.