Warning bells should be ringing for Pakistani mango exporters as another consignment to the UK was found to be infested with fruit flies. This instance comes barely fifteen days after the first infestation, and mango exporters would do well to take note of the embargo on India by the EU for the export of mangoes and four other types of fruits and vegetables because of a very similar contamination by fruit flies. Pakistan imported over a 100000 tonnes of mangoes to the EU last year, and only stood to increase that number with the removal of India, a major competing exporter of the fruit. However, if regulatory bodies do not tighten rules on quality control, three more contaminated consignments might lead us to join India on the EU’s embargo list.

Australian farmers and researchers have been working closely with their Pakistani counterparts for several years to find new ways to improve the yield of mangoes. This is not because they feel that the farmers in Pakistan have new information to offer, but rather because they see Pakistan’s environmental conditions, with the abundance of pests and infestations, as a worst-case scenario, and use the environment to improve resistance for their own yield. Australia started importing mangoes from Pakistan just last year, and the news of fruit flies in the EU consignment is already spreading fear among local buyers, with local producers calling for increased scrutiny of imports.

The Department of Plant Protection (DPP) reportedly shut down all of their stations except for the one in Karachi on the 27th of June to ensure that no exports to the EU would be contaminated, but that initiative seems to have failed. If the extra efforts extended to the EU failed it is all but certain that other countries have already or will soon receive infested mangoes as well. It is almost too much to hope that the DPP will carry out countermeasures such as hot water treatment on mangoes properly, but one thing is certain; the international market is not going to stand by and wait for Pakistan to clean up its act and will move to a new buyer soon.