Thursday, 21 June 2012

Southern Punjab, Sindh: mango season bound to help boost economies

Although the prospects for Pakistani mangoes selling in world market appear good, chances of mango exports to United States continue to remain dim as a result of strict phyto-sanitary conditions imposed by United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Animal Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), according to stakeholders here.

Notwithstanding this situation, the ongoing United States Agency for International Development (USAID) programme to help strengthen Pakistan's mango sector, the 2012 mango season is bound to give a greater boost to the economies of southern Punjab and Sindh.

Whether it is the succulent Sindhri or the delectable Chaunsa, Pakistan's mangoes are favoured across the globe for their superior taste and unique aroma. Regrettably, however, though being one of the leading producers of mangoes in the world, the country is able to export less than five percent of its produce.

This is mainly because of market inefficiencies and lack of farmer knowledge about quality and hygiene standards, which need to be addressed to enable the product, become internationally competitive. The sector contributes approximately USD 150 million per year to Pakistan's GDP, while the estimated cumulative opportunity cost of market inefficiency for mango exports for 2006-2015 is USD 674 million. This opportunity cost offers immense potential that could be converted into realisable gains for the country's economy.

It was against this backdrop that the United States Agency for International Development launched its programme to help strengthen Pakistan's mango sector in 2009. Many progressive farmers from the country's mango growing belt in southern Punjab and Sindh have benefited from the programme and have achieved higher crop yields, improved fruit quality, and adopted better handling and packaging techniques that have enabled them to successfully market their product to international buyers and retailers.

Through cost share agreements with farmers, USAID has helped set-up 14 on-farm mango pack house facilities, which also include processing lines, with another one to become functional by the 2012 mango season. These processing lines are the first of their kind in the country, and have been a vital factor in boosting mango quality and enhancing shelf life. USAID has also aided farmers in installing blast chillers and cold storage equipment, de-sapping equipment, water filtration plants, ethylene generators, stand-by diesel generators, and provided plastic harvest crates.

With increased consumer consciousness about food safety, compliance to GlobalG.A.P standards is critical to reassure consumers in the world market about how food is produced on the farm by minimising the environmental impact of farming and maintaining health and hygiene codes. A total of 20 mango farms in Pakistan are currently GlobalG.A.P certified, of which 15 have achieved the certification as a result of USAID's programme. An additional 14 mango farms from across the country are set to acquire the certification by July 2012 through USAID's assistance.

In addition to these two components that mostly target larger farms capable of producing high volumes, the project's training programme is designed to reach exporters, agriculture extension workers and a greater mass of small farmers in rural Punjab and Sindh to improve orchard care and harvesting techniques, and over 2500 beneficiaries from over 1,000 firms have been trained so far. The programme has also assisted farmer participation in international fruit exhibitions and conducted buyer-seller meetings as part of its efforts to improve mango sales and create opportunities for employment. Market and feasibility studies for dried mango, part of the value addition activities, have been completed and four pilot dried mango facilities are expected to be completed by September 2012.

As a result of the programme, 575 new full time jobs have been created so far with another 580 expected by the end of the 2012 mango season. Partner farms have been able to reduce post-harvest losses by 10 percent, and increase yields by 15 percent. They also registered an increase in sales of USD 4.35 million in 2011 (including 4,000 plus tons of exports to the Gulf, US and EU), demonstrating a growth of 63 per cent from the previous year. USD 19.7 million in additional revenues is expected for partner mango farmers by end of the 2013 mango season.

The project has also successfully completed six trial sea shipments (three each in 2010 and 2011), achieving a success rate of over 90 per cent for Sindhri variety and over 70 per cent for Chaunsa. These trial shipments have generated enormous interest among some of the leading international buyers, with potential orders of up to 800 tons of mangoes.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2012

1 comment:

  1. thanks for tell us a great information i really impress from your blog keep shearing in a same way.
    chaunsa mango exporter



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