KARACHI-Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) Vice President Shaikh Sultan Rehman Friday said there were 11 agro-climate zones in the country where different varieties of fruits, vegetables and flowers could be cultivated to earn foreign exchange.

He stated this in an interactive seminar on “Horticulture Sector in Pakistan: Potentials & Impediments” which was held at Federation House here, Regional Office Lahore and Capital Office Islamabad via zoom video link.

While welcoming the participants, Shaikh Sultan Rehman emphasized on the value addition of horticulture sector wherein there was huge scope of exports.

He added that citrus, mango, potato, peach, and cherries from Pakistan are those horticulture products which were highly recognized at international market. Unfortunately this sector was ignored in Pakistan and as a result the production of key fruits and vegetables indicate a declining trend, he said. He stated that Pakistan was still using old and traditional methods for harvesting which result in low yield per hectare compared to other countries.

Pakistan had potentials to increase exports as well as domestic consumption by investing in research and technology, the vice president added.

He also quoted the facts and figures of Asian Development Bank Studies which reflect that per capital consumption of vegetables and fruits was very low compared to USA and European countries which also affect our human capital and productivity.

He also highlighted issues related to post harvest losses and lack of cold storage and warehouses.

Former Chairman of Horticulture Development Board and Exports Saadat Ejaz Qureshi underscored the need of freight subsidy and appreciated the government for increasing custom duty on import of fruits to discourage its import and protecting domestic production.

He advised to improve the farms conditions by giving its management to the professional people.

Chairman of Horticulture Department, PMAS Arid Agriculture University Dr. Ishfaq Ahmed informed that in different areas of Pakistan there are opportunities available for production of fruits like olives, grapes etc.

Director National Coordinator (Horticulture), PARC Dr. Hafeezur Rehman urged reduction in post-harvest losses, identification of new markets, technological advancement and supply consistency.

Horticulture Society of Pakistan Chairman Fahim Siddiqui emphasized on the promotion of floriculture in Pakistan where there was huge potential as Pakistan spends millions of dollars in importing flowers. Horticulturist, Agriculture University Faisalabad Muhammad Amin focused on value addition, better preservation of fruits, branding, packaging of fruits and vegetables in order to increase Pakistan’s share in international market.

He urged the government to set the uniform price of Pakistan fruit exports for all countries. Moreover, he suggested the government to devise a strategy for exporting dates to Saudi Arabia and other countries.

In his concluding remarks, Vice President FPCCI Sheikh Sultan Rehman emphasized the need to form long-term, consistent policies with consultation with all stakeholders, establish warehouses and cold storages to save fruits and vegetables from being rotten, utilize modern irrigation technologies to increase the production and improving quality. He offered vote of thanks to the participants.