Islamabad, Islamabad Chamber of Commerce & Industry (ICCI) Member Export and CEO Harvest Tradings, Ahmed Jawad has expressed the hope that exports of Pakistani dates can be enhanced up to $200 million with proper processing and packaging.
In a statement issued here Thursday, he said per acre yield of dates in Pakistan had not much increased since 1999, whereas the worldwide production had increased by 166 percent. “We need to pay urgent attention towards production, processing and quality enhancement, preservation, research and marketing facilities to save and ensure growth of this potent source of foreign exchange”, he called. He said, currently there is no infrastructure available for proper storage capacity and we import dates in the month of Ramadan on high prices which will affect on the consumer.
Ahmad Jawad said, developed importers of date palm, as Germany, Denmark, and UAE, are re-exporting Pakistani dates, after quality enhancement and preparation of by-products, at a price which is 4 to 6 times higher than their import price. Other major importers of Pakistani dates include India, Nepal, US, UK, Afghanistan, and Canada. “Out of the 300 varieties of dates produced in Pakistan, Begam Jangi of Balochistan, Aseel of Sindh and Dhakki of Dera Ismail Khan are the varieties which are much sought after the world over due to their exotic taste, “, he remarked. But lack of processing and packaging facilities these highly valuable varieties do not fetch their real worth in the export market, he deplored. On the other hand, he said government launched a model project of date processing plant at Khairpur District with the collaboration of PHDEC and Govt of Sindh.
The Concerned Ministry had provided Rs 20 million for the model project through the Export Development Fund, he said, adding the plant would have capacity to process 3,000 to 3,500 tons of dates per season and rest of the money around Rs 60 million from the private investors/ bank loan.
Similarly another Date Plant at Ratta Kulachi, DI Khan district with the collaboration of PHDEC and Government of KPK on the basis of public and private sector partnership again, he added. The total project cost was Rs 90 million around Rs 28 million are available in PHDEC, Jawad informed. He said it involves cleaning / initial sorting, fumigation, washing, drying, curing, grading and packing facilities for fresh dates. It will have annual processing capacity of 3300 tons of dates based on double shifts and processing period of 150 days.
CEO Harvest Tradings urged currently in horticulture export mostly efforts are done by private sector till date. So Provincial Government must go ahead and releases the remaining amount for these projects for the betterment of Dates export and received better returns interims of foreign exchange.