The extended lockdown, even in its lighter version, it still causing several issues for businesses, industries and agriculture across Pakistan. The latest economic loss might soon be incurred by the mango growers in Sindh as per recent reports. With governments still restricting movement across provincial lines to a certain degree, the mass influx of labour – both skilled and unskilled – that comes with the harvest from Punjab to Sindh might not be able to make it in time for the mangoes to be plucked at the best possible time. This would both waste the crop and cause massive losses for the growers.

Even in normal times, a spoiled crop is a big loss to both the farm owner and the national economy. However, with the pandemic already devastating the financial situation of the global market, we cannot afford to lose an estimated Rs2 billion to the inability to harvest mangoes before they become ripe.

The government must improve screening if it has to, but getting workers to Sindh mango farmers is urgently needed. Where possible, the growers must also adjust, and hire unskilled labour at least from within the province. Farmers are understandably concerned about sunk costs with contracts having been paid for in full, but this sum can later be adjusted and the farmers can be recompensated with the government playing the role of a facilitator.

With the news that India has been delisted in European markets as a preferred exporter, we can utilise this opportunity to export in larger volumes. Our mangoes are easily some of the best in the world; the international market is already vaguely familiar with this, but a bigger presence in supermarkets in Europe and North America will do wonders to firmly place our mangoes on the map. These are difficult problems to grapple with, but if we manage to get ahead of them, we might just come out of this with yet another potential boost to our exports.