ISLAMABAD: Expecting to export an additional 50,000 metric tonnes (MT) of kinnow, exporters have set a target of exporting 350,000MT of the fruit this season as compared to the 300,000MT exported last year.
According to documents available with this scribe, the All Pakistan Fruit & Vegetable Exporters Association (PFVA) had commenced the export of kinnow from Dec 1. The association expects to fetch foreign exchange worth $210 million this season.
It may be mentioned that Pakistan’s total production of kinnow is estimated to be around 2,100,000 metric tonnes this year; however, the production of exportable quality kinnow is far less. Of the total produce, 75pc consists of B and C grade kinnow that are not up to exportable standards. This is because the orchards are 60 years old and susceptible to various diseases.
In addition, Pakistani kinnow suffers from the common disease of blemish and melanoses which badly affects its cosmetic look. Owing to this very reason, the PFVA, for the last several years, had imposed a ‘self-ban’ on exports to Europe to avoid a ban by the EU itself.
Presently, as the demand for citrus fruits containing vitamin C was increasing in the international markets due to coronavirus pandemic, Pakistan remains unable to exploit this unique opportunity to its advantage despite being a prominent producer of citrus fruits.
Talking to Profit, PFVA Chairman Waheed Ahmed said that the overall export of citrus fruits and value-added products can be enhanced to $1 billion in five years, but it is imperative to explore new varieties of disease-free citrus fruits and establish new orchards with a higher yield per acre through extensive research & development (R&D).
The PFVA chairman also added that the acute shortage of the reefer containers for export during the current season was a big issue.
“Kinnow is exported through land and sea and due to the non-availability of the containers and high freight charges, the export is confronted with difficult situations and is likely to have a negative impact on its export,” he explained.
“It is ironic that Punjab, a hub of kinnow production, could not draw the provincial government’s attention [towards the problems], while the federal government also continues to ignore the longstanding issues being faced by the kinnow industry,” he stated, lamenting that the association has been continuously raising serious concerns over the dark clouds hovering above the kinnow industry to the federal as well provincial governments for the last decade.
As per the documents, Pakistan’s kinnow industry is worth around Rs125 billion; the entire economy of Bhalwal and Sargodha depends on this industry while about 250 processing factories of the citrus fruit located in Punjab are providing direct employment to 2.5 million people.