Mango Export from Pakistan and WTO
Regime on Food & Agriculture
By Dr. Syed Wajid H. Pirzada
diversified natural resources [NR] and eco- systems,
Pakistan is endowed with, gives Pakistan a comparative
advantage in agro-livestock &fisheries [sub] sectors, over
her competitors in this area.
The agro-diversity best places the country to produce
diversified goods in general and agro-livestock & fisheries
products in particular;
Which can cater to diverse market
niches and satisfy the [diverse] demand and aesthetic tastes
of consumers, in the [emerging] global trade context.
Cheap and hardworking labor coupled with [indigenous]
knowledge & skills the indigenous people are equipped with,
puts Pakistan in an enabling environment, given the
political will, to exploit the [comparative] advantage
country enjoys in this sector.
Be it refreshening buffalo milk with fat premium, basmati
rice with [appetizing] aroma & quality unique to [Pakistani]
rice belt, wool for hand-knit rugs & carpet industry,
leather goods symbolic of craftsmanship of our people,
citrus especially kinnow- a relished Vit. C drink or the
king of fruits-the mango, the juicy delicacy of Pakistan,
all are unique in their attributes, of commercial value.
To underpin economic development of the country, sustainable
trade development remains the cherished goal being an
imperative. To this end, one needs to exploit, to national
advantage, all export possibilities by unfolding the
inherent potential of different [sub] sectors of economy.
Such an initiative warrants capitalizing on the strength and
managing the weaknesses of these sectors. One of such
promising [sub] sectors is that of horticulture, which like
livestock, fisheries & floriculture, has enough in store in
terms of [future] trade prospects.
With in horticulture sub sector, mango [cultivation &]
export, like citrus, has great potential. Mango varaities
such as Sindhry, Chaunsa, Fajri, Golden and Began Phaly,
just to name few, are in great demand, especially in Middle
& Far Eastern countries.
Despite the fact that in a single year , Pakistan was
able to export 39,000 tones of mango, she [still] faces
multiple problems in realizing the true export potential in
Some of the problems
impacting mango trade are summarized below:
of inputs: water, fertilizer, pesticide, and electricity
disease problems e.g. declining productivity syndrome
of) value addition: no systematic effort
varietal development: inadequate research capacity
quality management practices
storage & processing: limited capacity e.g. cool chain, low
from growers to retailers /exporters.
marketing: no strategic planning.
shipment: faces problem.
Pakistan continues to face the embargo, on Pakistani mango,
placed by USA 40 years back. Lately Australia, Germany &
Japan have banned import of mango from Pakistan on the
pretext of Fruit Fly issue.
Post harvest losses account for some 20-40%. And according
to one [considered] estimate saving 30% losses would help
double mango exports from Pakistan.
A continued ban on Pakistani mangoes, it self speaks of
institutional shortfalls for, a country like Philippines was
able to overcome this problem, and thus augmented her mango
exports. Yet, other competitors in the world, for example,
Mexico, Haiti, Brazil, have managed, like Philippines,
securing sustainable market niche. Indonesia, India and
Bangladesh have also a reasonable share in [global] mango
Pakistan, because of her comparative advantage, can
[further] boost her mango exports by addressing the problems
constraining mango trade, especially those related to health
& hygiene standards and post harvest losses.
As with the advent of WTO, food & agricultural trade has
gone global, the food safety & quality issues have got a new
prominence. In this context, two of WTO Agreements namely
Agreement on application of Sanitary & Phyto-sanitary [SPS]
Measures, and Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade [TBT]
are of special importance for, these address [food] safety &
quality issues respectively and are binding on 145[WTO]
Members. Whereas, the former [SPS] Agreement, reaffirms the
rights of Member countries, afforded under Article XX (b) of
GATT, that has [now] been re-enforced under SPS Agreement.
This Agreement provides that Member should not be prevented
from or enforcing measures necessary to protect human,
animal and plants life or health, subject to the
requirements that these measures are applied only to the
extent necessary, are based on scientific principles and are
not applied in a manner which would constitute a means of
arbitrary or unjustifiable discrimination between Members
where the same conditions prevail. The [SPS] Agreement also
encourages the Members to base their [SPS] measures on
international standards, guidelines & recommendations, as to
avoid trade disputes.
The later [TBT] Agreement [also] seeks to recognize
international standards, where they exist. It [further]
provides that, like SPS measures, technical measures
enforced under the Agreement should not create unnecessary
barriers in international trade, and that these should have
a legitimate purpose, and the cost of their implementation
should be proportional to the purpose of the measure. The
technical measures [standards] under this [TBT]
Agreement-The Standard Code, relate to quality aspects,
fraudulent practices, packing & packaging and labeling etc.
With [likely] dismantling of tariffs under WTO [AoA] regime,
there is natural temptation, on part of the countries to use
non-tariff and technical barriers to protect their
agriculture from external competition. Industrially Advanced
Countries [IACs] in particular have, at times, tendency to
use higher [than actually required] health & hygiene and
ecological & environmental standards, which tantamount to
creating arbitrary & unjustifiable barriers to trade.
Notwithstanding this intent of importing countries, food
safety standards, as envisaged by SPS Agreement, and for
that matter quality standards sought under TBT Agreement are
to be adhered to, if we want to engage gainfully in mango
trade. Needless to mention that [better] health & hygiene
standards are [equally] beneficial to consumers at home, as
these help avoid attended risks, associated with food trade
and associated economic losses
It is worth mentioning that if an [SPS], and for that matter
a technical measure does not meat the criteria set by these
[two] Agreements for example, if [subjective] intent of an [SPS]
measure is protection of local industry, as against health &
life of humans, animals & plants, it can be challenged in
WTO dispute Settlement Body. This however, is not only
costly but also a time consuming proposition. As WTO
regulations are to be enforced on bilateral basis, it is in
fitness of things to harmonize the standards or enter in to
equivalence arrangement with trading partners.
Both Agreements encourage harmonization and equivalence
arrangement. Needless to mention that in the eventuality of
trade dispute [both] trading partners have to make a
convincing case to defend their view points, as burden of
proof shifts from importing to exporting party during
dispute settlement proceedings, based on risk assessment and
scientific rationale. Most of the developing countries [DCs]
don't have such a [techno-legal] capacity, and thus they
stand to lose in such disputes.
It is [thus] advisable that to avoid [trade] disputes and to
sell the produce with confidence and certainty, efforts be
made to improve food safety & quality, and [simultaneously]
enter in to equivalence arrangements where possible. Such
help contain losses in terms of value of [mango] crop lost
as a result of rejections in export trade. [US] Estimates
suggests that in food rejection cases, food hygiene
problems, contamination with insects and rodent filth ranks
at number 1, followed by microbiolo-gical contamination,
failing to comply with food registration and labeling
requirements, of importing country.
Those in mango export therefore need to manage mango health
& quality issues.
standards need to be introduced for fresh mangoes. These
relate to inter alia maturity index of cultivars, post
harvest behavior and other quality - related attributes such
as injuries & defects, tolerance [limits] etc. Similarly,
standards & grades related to packing & packaging and
labeling are to be established.
requirements with regard to quality, for example, are:The
[mango] fruit must be sound. Produce affected by rotting or
deterioration such as to make it unfit for consumption is
excluded. It should be free from damage and/external
deterioration caused by heat and must be clean, practically
free of any visible foreign matter. Free from any foreign
taste and / or smell.
In [mango] quality management, especially in the area of
sampling & analytical methods needs to be imparted. To this
end [specific] training material & courses in the form of
manuals & modules are to be tailored and conducted.
Promotion: Last, but by no means least, Quality Management
Facilitators / Promoters, as against the concept of Quality
Inspectors, are to be deployed to help mango growers &
exporters adopt the required health & quality standards,
employing a participatory development approach.
It needs hardly any emphasis that, it is no longer [more]
possible [these days] to export [fresh] mangoes without
regard to quality & safety standards of importing country.
The mango growers & exporters, with the active cooperation,
of their Associations/Chambers and Export Promotion Bureau
,need to work proactively on evolving such standards &
grades, as required by trading partners through bilateral
arrangement, that can satisfy health safety & quality
concerns of importing country.
Mango Exporters of Mexico have benefited from such a
proactive approach. Mexico used to export till mid nineties
her mango with out any quality control. For example, in 1995
[alone] Mexico exported 30 million boxes of mango without
resorting to quality standards. The Export Mango Packing
Association [EMEX], realizing the challenge ahead got
engaged proactively, with Mexican Research Center in Food &
Development, for purpose of [quality] standards setting.
In progressive economies,like Singapore, standards setting
is carried out in private sector, which assists Government
in quality management. Private sector in Pakistan too should
embark upon this strategy.
Mango Health& hygiene and safety management
Diseases & Quarantine Laws: number of diseases affect
mangoes such as Powdery mildew, anthracnose, sooty mold,
root rot & rot of mangoes malformation of inflorescence etc.
Some 86+ species of insect pests alone have been recorded on
mango. Fruit fly, scale insects, mealy bug & hoppers are
The conditions laid down by importing countries, in terms of
disease control measures; such as quarantine [SPS] laws need
to be met. Most of these countries have regulations aiming
at protection of life & health of flora, fauna and human
being. For example, under Biosecurity Act 1993, of New
Zealand, there have been provided [explicit] import health
standards for fresh mango [Mangifera indica]. And until and
unless these import health standards under section 22 of the
Biosecurity Act are satisfied, entry in to New Zealand of
[all] plants & plant products is prohibited.
Plant Protection Department, Government of Pakistan needs to
engage in [proactive] dialogue with countries like New
Zealand & Australia to harmonize plant [mango] Protection
New Zealand in the recent past has also introduced
legislation, under Hazardous Substances Act 1996 that
regulates deliberate introduction of new organisms including
inter alia Genetically Modified Organisms [GMOs]. Relevant
agencies in Pakistan like Ministry of Environment and
Ministry of Food, Agriculture & Livestock need to study
these regulations and coordinate with Risk Management
Authority, Government of New Zealand. This shall help
formulate national strategy on GMOs.
The [se] quarantine laws address the issue(s) related to
Regulated Pests [Actionable]-those organisms for which phyto-sanitary
actions would be undertaken, if they were intercepted or
detected. These pests have been categorized, under the Act,
into different groups, based on [possible level] of risk
associated with these organisms. These groups are,
Quarantine: Risk Group 1, 2 & 3 Pests Regulated
non-quarantine pests and Regulated non-plant pests.
Similarly Vectors -associated Quarantine Pests, Vectored
Organisms, Strains [variants] of pests, Unidentifiable
Organisms; and unlisted Organisms have been dealt with under
the category of Regulated Pest in the Act. Under
Non-regulated Pests [Non-actionable]-those organisms for
which Phyto-sanitary actions would not be undertaken, if
they were intercepted/detected; categories like
Non-regulated non-quarantine pests, Non-regulated non-plant
pests and Contaminants such as soil, leaf litter etc have
been addressed. For example, lots with more than 25 gms of
soil per 600 unit samples shall be treated, reshipped or
Each [mango] consignment thus has to carry Phyto-sanitary
Certificate from [mango] exporting country, stating
specifically inter alia that the mangoes have been inspected
in accordance with appropriate official procedures and found
to be free of visually detectable Regulated Pests, as
specified by the New Zealand Ministry of Agriculture &
The aforementioned conditions are specific to mangoes
imported from Philippines. Other countries need to enter in
to [similar] bilateral quarantine arrangement such as
agreement & work plan (s), with their trading partners.
In addition to the [aforementioned] requirement of Phyto-sanitary
Certification, there are[pre] conditions specific to
protection, packaging & shipping materials, which for
example under the New Zealand Biosecurity Act, 1993, need to
be inert/synthetic. Other preconditions could [possibly]
relate to transit requirements e.g. mango must be packed &
shipped in a manner to prevent contamination by Regulated
Needless to underline that [mango] consignments, destined
for target market, are expected to carry mangoes in intact
form, color and at required level of maturity. For this,
mangoes must have been carefully picked and have an
appropriate degree of development & ripeness in accordance
to the criteria appropriate to the variety and to the area
in which these are grown. The state of ripeness must be such
as to allow the fruit to withstand transport& handling
pressures, and thus arrive in satisfactory condition at the
place of destination.
The importing country [in this case New Zealand] will only
issue Biosecurity Clearance, if she is satisfied that
Regulated Pests are not detected and consignment is free of
Capacity Building Initiatives: Following initiatives can
help build trade capacity in mango [sub] sector:
of mango growers & exporters as Associations/ Chambers
Program for value-added exports
in Mango R &D
control/disease free zones
of quality infrastructure
in quality management
packaging & labeling facilities
initiatives are to be taken in the following areas:
Monitoring & surveillance of contaminants:
Food, as we know, itself is a good indicator of environment,
in which it is produced. Because of urbanization and
concomitant industrialization phenomena, risk of food being
contaminated with industrial and other potential pollutants
has increased. Surveillance & monitoring of
contaminants[thus] alone [thus] help identify and avoid
Constraints on trade resulting from fruit fly especially
needs to be managed through appropriate scientific methods.
Disinfestation with ethylene dibromide 20 g/m3 for 2 hr was
earlier recommended as a [possible] treatment for
disinfestation for fruit fly. With the discouraging trends
and [consequent upon that] phasing out of this chemical
world wide since 1984, it has become imperative to find
better alternatives, such as dips and packing line flood
treatments with dimethoate (400 mg/L) or fenthion (400
mg/L), and gamma irradiation at 75 Gy. Heat treatments,
particularly vapor heat, are yet other alternatives.
Irradiation and heat treatments are preferred for these are
free of chemical residues.
Improper & unsanitary handling practices e.g. washing with
contaminated water are the leading cause of food borne
Irradiation can serve to decontaminate the surface of these
commodities, without residual effects associated with
It also slows down the ripening process, and can thus
facilitate safer transportation to destined markets.
Doses range from 0.15-1kGy can be applied without
appreciable loss of food quality.
Some of the value added [mango] products, other than
pickles, preserves etc are differenttypes of juice products:
pure or 100% juice
Punch, Drink & Beverage-less than 100% juice with added
Squeezed Juices- not pasteurized
Concentrate-reconstituted from Concentrate
from Concentrate-never been concentrated
Frozen-freshly squeezed, packaged & frozen.
on refrigerated shelves-shelf stable products
Juice-Heated & sealed
industry can be promoted through value addition and by
adopting Hazard Analysis & Critical Control Points [HACCP].
be declared and developed as Mango Export Zone
Development Fund be established [as a share out of [EPB]
available sources; and financial support e.g. up to 25,000
plantation & nature of crop, may be provided for 5 years, on
lines with Konkan India.
VHT, Irradiation, Cold Chain and Laboratory facilities at
facility and tax holiday for value-added processing &
exports may be provided.
mango traders need to seek help of professionals in
popularizing - in a creative and aggressive manner - their
an immediate marketing presence in the destined market
[even] prior to physical presence.
their position/ linkages with their trading partners/agents.
with trade group, before they [even] open the office.
the critical marketing tools-product information
representation in trade fairs, web sites; and for this they
need to begin now and act strategically.
Courtesy: The World Trade Review