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export prospects of citrus fruits have improved as
production is up and exporters anticipate sending larger
shipments to a widening foreign market.
Exporters expect kinnow alone to fetch $200m this season,
up from about $175m last year, as they see a real boost in
orders from Indonesia.
During a week-long visit to Indonesian cities last month,
a 15-member delegation of the Sargodha Chamber of Commerce
and Industry found that the demand for kinnow is rising
Kinnow exports to
Indonesia surged last year after a mutual recognition
agreement on sanitary.
phyto sanitary measures for agricultural products became
Besides this, the waiver of customs duty on purchase of
Pakistani kinnow under the preferential trade agreement
should continue to boost exports to Indonesia.
Meanwhile, the recent Russian move to ban imports of fruits
and vegetables from the US and the EU is also fuelling
optimism among kinnow exporters, who believe that the ban
would eventually benefit fruit and vegetable exporters of
Pakistan and other Asian nations.
Last year, Russia had lifted the
ban it had imposed earlier on Pakistani citrus fruits, but
only after the export season had already peaked. Exporters
anticipate a real rise this season.
Exporters expect larger orders of citrus fruits from
Indonesia, Malaysia, UAE, Saudi Arabia and other GCC nations
because of improved processing, grading and packaging.
They also expect larger orders
from Malaysia, UAE, Saudi Arabia and other GCC nations, in
addition to some European countries, because of improved
processing, grading and packaging of citrus fruits.
Besides, after the successful launching of mango farm
tracking earlier this year, Pakistan is now replicating this
initiative with citrus fruits. Relevant officials began
surveying kinnow farms in Punjab from early October.
The survey is aimed at
identifying the farms eligible for certification and
standardisation for EU markets.
Moreover, a higher projected production of 2.1-2.2m tonnes,
up slightly from last year, is sure to enhance export
volumes, say officials of the Pakistan Horticulture
Development and Export Company.
Final official figures for last seasonís exports are not
available, but exporters claim they surpassed the target of
300,000 tonnes. This seasonís target remains the same, and
leading exporters claim that actual shipments will reach
Despite this optimism, the production of citrus fruits is
facing some structural problems that, if unresolved, would
make sustainable export growth difficult.
Average production rose to 2.1m tonnes during 2006-2010, up
from 1.83m tonnes during 2001-2005, mainly due to an
expansion in the area under cultivation. But for the past
three years, output has remained at just around 2m tonnes.
So, the key question is, why hasnít there been an increase
in production after 2010?
One explanation is that the area under cultivation, which
averaged 197,000 hectares between 2006 and 2010, has
remained almost unchanged since then. This means the
per-hectare yield of citrus fruits isnít rising. But why?
A 2013 study conducted jointly by researchers of the Nuclear
Institute for Agriculture and Biology, Faisalabad, and the
University of Agriculture, Faisalabad, explains:
ďFruit-dropping is one of the main reasons of low citrus
fruit yield in Pakistan, which is thought to be mainly due
to hormonal imbalance in the plants.
This imbalance may occur as a result of nutrient
deficiency in orchard soils, water shortage, and insect pest
attack on the citrus treesĒ.
If these issues are addressed through a set of measures,
including foliar sprays on key plant nutrients, the average
yield of citrus fruits can be doubled within five years from
the current 10.7 tonnes per hectare, say agronomists and
In Brazil ó the top producer of citrus fruits ó the
per-hectare yield has been running steadily at 21-24 tonnes
since 1999, experts say, stressing that doubling Pakistanís
current yield will be no big deal.
But growers complain that despite declaring horticulture an
industry, policymakers have paid little attention to its
development. They say that unlike other industries and major
sub-sectors of agriculture, horticulturists have very little
access to bank financing.
And the federal and provincial governments also donít
offer public-private partnership for investment in
processing, grading and packaging.
They say the establishment of mango orchard clusters in
Multan is encouraging for fruit exporters, but this model
needs to be replicated for citrus orchards as well.
Last year, citrus fruits were exported at an average price
of less than $200 per tonne.
Trade Development Authority of Pakistan officials say
this price is far lower than the average export price of
other citrus fruits produced by countries like Egypt,
Morocco and Spain. Egyptian oranges, for example, fetch $400
Some officials say a large number of farmers grow low
quality citrus fruits that are then routinely shipped out
without proper grading, polishing and packaging, and fetch
low per-unit prices.