Developed infrastructure rises fruit, vegetable exports around $500mn

fruit and vegetableISLAMABAD: The fruit and vegetable sectors have the potential to cross half billion dollars mark if the exporters are provided proper facilities of packaging, grading, quarantine and quality control.

The country earned US$ 359 million by exporting fruits and vegetables during last financial year 2010 as against the export of US$ 233 million in FY 2009.The export of fruit and vegetable were recorded at US$ 202 million during the year 2008 thus, an agriculture expert said adding there was a need for organizing training programmes and demonstrations on production-cum-marketing technology for attaining standard products.Export financing is almost not available as banks often hesitate financing this trade being perishable in nature.

“It is recommended that finance facilities may be provided to small farmers who are interested in exports,” Chief Executive Officer Harvest Trading Ahmad Jawad told APP.He said, owing to bulkiness and short shelf-life of the products, freight is major component of the C&F cost.By setting-up storage houses and facilities for grading and packing of fruits and vegetables closer to the export points, the country can significantly enhance the exports of these products to Afghanistan and other landlocked states beyond Afghan borders.

He said that export of horticultural products can be further increased through deeper penetration into new markets.There is also need to obtain higher per unit price through improved cosmetic appearance and better packaging of these products, he added.Ahmad Jawad said that out of 13.67 million tons of annual production of fruits and vegetables in Pakistan, about 30 per cent is lost during pre and post-harvest stages due to primitive and poor techniques of handling.He further said that improvement in the harvest management infrastructure for horticultural products will help reduce the harvest losses, increase production surplus and also the shelf-life and quality of fresh produce.

Besides, he said that it would also greatly contribute to stabilizing the prices in domestic markets and substantially boost exports.Despite Pakistan’s immense potential in fruits and vegetables, the country has not so far been able to capture the international market commensurate to its potential.However, Pakistan can appear as one of the leading exporters of fruits and vegetables if it pays attention to packaging, grading, quarantine and quality control.

Freight from Pakistan is more as compared with our competitors in the region like India.He said that the Leasing facility may also be provided to exporters who will establish cold storage houses near clusters of production.Refrigerated vehicles on lease terms are also recommended to strengthen transport network from clusters to airport/seaport.CEO Harvest Trading said the non-availability of cargo flights/space as per demands in the export markets is also one of the major problems.It is also proposed to increase cold-storage capacity at Airports to preserve freshness of products; he added. – brecorder