ISLAMABAD   -  Minister for National Food Security and Research Sahibzada Mehboob Sultan on Thursday said that this year, Pakistan managed to find out two new markets for citrus export as Philipines and China are open for Pakistan’s citrus fruits now.

“It is very heartening to note that Pakistan has targeted China and Philippines markets for kinnow export and expected boost in kinnow export is about 20 percent this year,” Sahibzada Mehboob said during a visit to the “Citrus Export Processing Unit” in Bhalwal; Sargodha.

The minister said that the purpose of the gathering was to interact with stakeholders and exporters and to work out for making citrus export more promising. The minister informed that last year Pakistan exported 30,000 ton kinnow to Indonesia and it is second biggest market after Russia.

Mehboob said, “Presently we are facing many challenges internationally as European Union and other developed countries of the world are creating barriers for agro exports”.

“America, Australia, Japan, Korea even few central Asian countries are not importing Pakistani kinnow anymore and those who are importing are not paying attractive exchange,” he said, adding the world is setting new standards for imports; there are SPS, pesticide residue elimination, cold treatment and pest free area.

He said these are difficult and costly and hence affecting our exports to a considerable level.

Meboob Sultan said, “Our land is endowed with immense natural resources and our land is most fertile, we have best farmers, agriculture marketing experts at our disposal, but ironically we could not achieve desired results”.

However, he said there is a lack of administration or management of channeling those resources. He further said that he had firm belief that the food experts and economists could work out a viable solution for food self-sufficiency. Not just this but through quality exports, Pakistan could access lucrative international markets as well.

The minster said we are facing two problems of citrus: citrus canker and citrus graining which is detrimental to “kinnow” exports and European Union, Australia and America banned the export from countries where these diseases are reported in citrus fruit.

“The time is testing but we have to work in collaboration to continue to stay part of international trade and we have to adopt new methods and bring our production in line of SPS standards defined by WTO.”

Sultan assured that being a public representative, he will extend his help and request all concerned to come up with a comprehensive plan containing facility for inspection of diseases, disease control program, build nurseries for disease free saplings, ensure observance of GAP and IPM standards, and access to new and profitable international markets.

He said the government has firm belief in further improving ease of doing business and in this connection the ministry has established facilitation centre at Bhalwal, where Department of Plant Protection’s inspectors would facilitate exporters regarding inspection and issuance of SPS Certificate.

Federal Secretary Dr Hashim Popalzai and other senior officials of the Ministry were also present at the occasion.