Karachi, Pakistan s kinnow mandarin season has got off to a promising start with expectations of a 39% year-on-year rise to 300,000 metric tons (MT).
Harvest Tradings chief executive officer Ahmad Jawad told www.freshfruitportal.com more than 200 packing houses swung into action last month, and is set to produce about 8,000MT a day until close of season at beginning of April. He said treasury stood to receive up to US$200 million from the industry if it could hit 300,000MT figure, and urged government to help establish proper banking channels for two key markets, Russia and Iran.
I am optimistic that soon we will get these protocols because right now most of exports are on a commission basis selling it to market with dealer taking 5% in commission. He said if international banking protocols between Pakistan, Russia and Iran could be created then it would offer greater security on a larger volume. Banks should offer a guarantee from both parties to increase volumes and exports across the board. When bank is not a guarantor then you are more restricted. I can t export to anyone because it s less secure.
Currently, 50% of Pakistani kinnow mandarin exports go to Russia & Middle East, although United Nations sanctions against Iran are posing extra hurdles. Jawad is passionate about developing new markets and would like to see government more actively engaged with overseas trade delegations to promote the fruit. Kinnow mandarins taste delicious and we need government to help us increase export volumes. Over next year, government could help us add three to four new export countries for the industry.
Bangladesh, Eastern Europe, Indonesia & Malaysia recently emerged as strong buyers. Early this year Indonesia agreed to scrap its 25% import duty in return for Pakistan government reducing palm oil import duties. Jawad said Pakistan also hopes to tap into European market once it starts producing seedless kinnow mandarin varieties.
Agricultural scientists are working hard on mass production of seedless kinnow fruit in Pakistan, which Jawad would like to see materialize within next three years. Once seedless varieties start bearing fruit, it will help generate precious and much needed foreign exchange which could go up to US$1 billion extra through export.
Pakistan ranks 13th in the world as a citrus producer, with area of 185,000 hectares, producing 1.7 million tons of citrus with 5% increase every year in production. Brazil is largest citrus producer (20%), followed by US (14%), and China (12%). Pakistan is world s sixth-largest producer of kinnow mandarins which account for 95% of Pakistani s citrus production.
According to Jawad, Pakistani should learn from other countries such as Chile, the Netherlands and Thailand who have multiplied their horticultural exports over the last few years. With natural fertile land and temperate seasons we should be able to increase citrus exports to 20-30% of our domestic production.