Mango has excellent nutritional properties. High vitamin A and C contents, both being anti-oxidants, help reduce the risk of cancer as well as aging, making it a choicest fruit all across the globe. Pakistani mango being superb in all qualities is sold all over the world at good prices. Mango is mainly used as fresh fruit but its use in salads and pickles is also being practiced.
Mango is a valuable source of foreign exchange for many countries including Pakistan. Unfortunately, it is facing a strange dilemma that on one side it has emerged as an important exportable commodity, on the other hand the economic life of our groves, productivity, yield and quality has gone down.
Although the soil and climatic conditions in Pakistan support mango production in terms of yield and quality, the country is not able to acquire the desired results. A number of factors contribute towards its low production. The unchecked use of unhealthy seeds forming diseased seedlings, insect attack (mango mealy bug, fruit fly, mango weevil, scales, mites), alternative bearing, mango malformation (vegetative or reproductive) and diseases (powdery mildew, anthracnose, quick decline, sooty mold, fruit rot and stem blight) are the greatest threat to the industry in major mango producing countries, including Pakistan.
Also, low pollination, less fruit setting (less than 0.1%), high fruit drop percentage, unnecessary stresses (injury) and improper management practices during budding or grafting, time of irrigation, pruning and time of application of fertilizers are contributing substantially to the downfall of the industry. Adding to the ever increasing problems are the post-harvest losses contributing almost 40-50%.
These problems arise mainly due to unavailability of nutrients from the soil, inefficient use of resources, unawareness about the ripening and quality maintenance practices. Still, we are not able to cope with the problems arising due to ignorance of farmers and facilities involving storage and marketing. The need of the hour is that the government should educate farmers and formulate policies supporting infrastructural development, access to the markets and provision of facilities at low costs.
The major constraint to the expansion of the market for Pakistani mango has, till recently, been related to the country's inability to supply competitively priced high quality mangoes in a significant and consistent manner, in keeping with the demands of supermarket chains.
At present, most of Pakistani mango farmers lack heat treatment and chillers facility to improve the shelf life of the product. However, currently, three or four Pakistani farms and one group of producers in Multan meet the Global Gap certification requirements of European markets.
Waheed Ahmed co-Chairman All Pakistan Fruit and Vegetable Exporters, Importers and Merchant Association (PFVA) said this year the target was fixed at 0.15 million tonnes with the estimated revenue generation of $50 million to the country.
The reduction in production, he said, was mainly because of the climatic change which hit the mango trees in many parts of the country including, Hyderabad, Tando Allahyar, Mirpurkhas and Mityari of Sindh and Multan, Rahimyar Khan, Shuja Abad, Muzaffar Garh and Khanewal of Punjab province.
Waheed said despite successful initiatives taken by PFVA in collaboration with the Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP) to introduce the country’s mango in the US and Japanese markets, the exports of the fruit to these countries was unlikely to be started this year because of the lack of VHT plant facility in the country.
Though last year Japan had approved the mango tested through the existing small VHT facility in the country, it was not viable to use for commercial level of trade because of its functionality and capacity. “Besides, the test and quality approval of mango in USA, in the absence of quarantine facility in the country, was also not favourable for exports as no exporter could risk sending the entire consignment to the foreign country before quality approval while bearing huge freight cost”, he added. Our mango failed to make debut in Japan, USA and Russia due to lack of funds for installing the VHT and radiation plant, needed to qualify the value added markets of the foreign countries. We are also losing the already established and tapped market in Iran because of the sanctions imposed by the US and UNO as the commercial banks here are reluctant to involve in the financial transactions. The lukewarm response by the government towards a genuine issue raised by the exporters regarding trade with Iran may also spell severe financial repercussions for the fruit’s export.
In view of the emerging critical situation, the exporters are apprehensive about the future of their exports as Iran is regarded as a valuable market in terms of prompt payment for the imported fruits. The existing exports or smuggling via land routes to Tehran would also not benefit the country in terms of revenue, Waheed added.