Pakistan hopes to achieve mango export target
By Ahmad Fraz Khan
LAHORE: Pakistan has exported over 50,000 tonnes of mango during the first five weeks (May 25 to June 30) of the season and hopes that its export target of 150,000 tonnes would be met in the next two months despite mounting challenges presented by a pandemic-hit world.
Mango exports peak during June but decline for a month or so before late varieties (such as White Chaunsa) renew the momentum that maintains itself through August.
Thoughexportershopethatthetarget may be met, the value (targeted $160 million) may not be achieved as buying power in the world has declined substantially due to Covid19 and expensive fruits like Pakistani mango may lose some share in the high-end markets.
Major markets so far (absorbing over 30 per cent) are Iran and Afghanistan, followed by the Middle East. Last year, Pakistan exported 125,000 tonnes and earned $72m.This year, it aims at doubling the income with around 15pc increase in volume.
Counting the challenges, Waheed Ahmed, patron-in-chief of the All Pakistan Fruits and Vegetable Exporters and Merchants Association, says that air space has become a huge hurdle. `The airlines around the world are mostly grounded, hardly operating at their 30 to 35pc capacity.
Under these circumstances, it is next to impossible to get space for mango for markets like Canada, UK and USA or even relatively closer Europe. What made the mango travel doubly difficult is the recent increase in freight charges. In order to make up for their losses, the airlines have increased freight charges by Rs8 to Rs10 per kg on July 1, adding massive cost to export expenditures.
`The shipping lines contribute their own share in making exports expensive,` Waheed continues. With trade reduction and low mobility of ships, availability of containers has become a huge hassle. Finding a propitious place (mango needs open top for quality issues) at the ship because ofspace pressureis yet anotherissue.
All these challenges have slowed the pace of export heavily. Pakistan has been able to send mango to 35 countries, out oftraditional40 export des-tinations, but volumes have dropped and pace slowed down.
The United Kingdom, which left the European Union and mandatory hot water treatment with it (an EU restriction), was expected to provide better prospects for export, but airspace issues and hike in freight seem to have robbed exporters of the potential advantage.
`Hot water treatment used to cost Rs6 a kg, which is saved in case of UK, but the benefit is neutralised by an increase in airfare and shrinking space in the airplanes. So, export to UK has not picked the pace as expected and numbers may not be different than what they were during the last year,` says Muhammad Siddig, an exporter.
About reaching the target of 150,000 tonnes this season, Arif Goraya, an exporter from Lahore, says, that hitting this target should not be a problem as Pakistan produced 2.3m tonnes this year and exporting 6-7pc of should hardly be a problem.
`Pakistan is now trying to rope in smuggling to Iran and Afghanistan in formal export. Both these low-end marl(ets can take that much volume.
The issue is opening new and high-end market, not celebrate markets that has historically been extension of Pakistan`s mango market.