Untapped fruit potential

http://www.dawn.com/2012/01/23/untapped-fruit-export-potential.html

Untapped fruit export potential

PAKISTAN’S fruit export remains below potential for lack of international certification, grading, labeling and value-addition, substandard packaging, insufficient market access, and huge post-harvest losses mainly due to poor cool chain.

The situation is worsened for want of enough farm-to-market roads, outdated post-harvest techniques, shortage of skilled labour and absence of institutional credit.

An estimated 30-50 per cent of the total produce is lost during harvesting, transportation and preservation/storage stages.

“Chitral and northern areas of Gilgit Baltistan produce large quantities of fresh and dry fruits. The drains, alleys and fields bellow the fruit trees here are strewn with dropped fruits.

With only a little cure and preventive measure, this loss can be prevented and converted into a profitable plan,” said Saifullah Khan, a Chitral-based farmer.

The total annual loss to fruit is estimated at around Rs60 billion. An integrated ‘cool chain’ project worth over Rs13 billion has been envisioned under the National Trade Corridor improvement programme aiming at 10 per cent reduction in post-harvest losses.

The horticultural sector contributes about 12 per cent to the national agricultural gross domestic product but its exports are of relatively low volumes.

The province’s Horticulture Policy 2009 identifies limited grading, non-practicing of certifications such as Eurogap, ISO 1400 and HACCP, lack of cold storage and identification of new markets etc as factors responsible for low fruit exports.

With the world becoming sensitive to food quality issues, Pakistan’s fresh fruit export industry will have to ensure compliance with the international standards and certifications mainly focused on food safety, traceability, residues of different agrochemicals, lack of good agricultural practices, reduction of post-harvest diseases and pests and safety of food
packaging materials.

The fruit production here is mostly organic, and therefore acceptable to the world.

The government needs to open common facility centres, collection points, processing plants, product testing laboratories and guidance and counselling centres in fruit production zones.

The PHDEC and TDAP should also establish training institutes for raising nt in production and quality with financial help from the Export Development Fund.

Coordination among the TDAP, PHDEC and the chambers of agriculture and chambers of trade and industry is vital for boosting exports. The TDAP’s facilitation division should ensure close interaction between the stakeholders.

Though there are nurseries both in the public and private sector in KP which produce fruit plants that are provided to farmers, the government and non-governmental organisations need to provide expert advice, fruit saplings/seeds, to farmers to grow more trees.

The province also needs to expand the germ plasma units and register more private sector nurseries for tissue culture technology to have more fruit orchards in the province.

The existing storage capacity in private sector meets requirement for only seven per cent of the total production. It needs to be enhanced. Fruit expor

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About Tahir Ali Khan
I am an academic, freelance columnist, writer and a social worker.

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