HYDERABAD - Federal Minister for Food and Agriculture Research Sikandar Hayat Bosan has said that government is providing all required facilities to the mango farmers to boost exports.

Addressing the inaugural ceremony in Thatta district on Friday of USAID-provided Automated Mango Graders to Sindh Mango Growers and Exporters (SMGE), the minister acknowledged that exports of the fruit to the developed world were still low. He informed that between 17 to 19 tonnes of mangoes were produced in Pakistan with 75 percent of the mango production contributed by Punjab and 24 percent by Sindh.

“But we export only 8% of the total production to 57 countries including the high-end markets like the US, EU, Japan, Australia and South Korea,” he said.

However, he observed, that the exports to the EU countries were limited to the ethnic markets and retail shops instead of large volume supplies to big food chains.

“Moreover, inadequate check and controls of exports to EU and the Gulf markets has often led to limited return due to quality and SPS [Sanitary and Phyto Sanitary agreement] issues,” he said.

The minister said that presently the entire mango industry was in the transition phase of development while several steps had already been taken by the government to improve that sector.

He specified that circumvention of the EU’s ban, increasing mangoes hot water treatment plants in the country from 1 to 29, improvement in pack house operations, developments of 50 ethylene gas chambers, introduction of ethylene sachets, ban on the usage of calcium carbide and registration of mango orchards for GAT certification were among the measures being taken.

“But, to truly capture the international market and build an organized export line certain other requirements also need to be fulfilled,” he said explaining that proved grading and sorting of the fruit to the international standards, improvements in the packaging, cosmetic improvement of mangoes, devising mechanism for constant supply, a more targeted and comprehensive marketing approach was required to help Pakistani exporters and producers of mangoes to get a better price for the crop.

Bosan acknowledged the help the USAID had provided to the mango farmers and exporters in Pakistan by educating the farmers in modern techniques and helping them meet export quarantine requirements.

The USAID provided hot water kits, developed cooling facilities, gave drying units and arranged international visits for farmers, exporters and producers, to allow them to witness firsthand latest procedures and practices of the industry, he added.

“The USAID projects are striving hard to boost the value chain and marketing of fruit, vegetables and meat sector and have accomplished some impressive landmarks,” he observed.

The minister told that the USAID was currently providing 13 state of the art automated graders to the mango growers and exporters, adding that several other fruits can benefit from those graders besides mangoes. Bosan thanked the USAID’s team engaged in the agricultural projects on behalf of the government of Pakistan.