KARACHI - Horticulture exports could grow to iconic proportions and touch as high as $7 billion in the next decade if Research and Development (R&D) is vigorously pursued and required infrastructure is established.

This was stated by Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) Head on Horticulture Exports Ahmad Jawad. He regretted that the country’s share in global horticulture exports is just 0.3 percent due to lack of priorities of the Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP) and Pakistan Horticulture Development and Export Company (PHDEC).

Jawad questioned the statement of the commerce ministry that the Trade TDAP has recently been restructured, while PHDEC is being revitalised and strengthened. “Practically we don’t see any improvement,” he opined. He said TDAP has become now an event management company and a source of foreign trips for bureaucrats of commerce ministry, as the TDAP has lost its relevance because of the country’s changing export base.

“Regardless Pakistani fruits and vegetables have great export potential that needs to be harnessed to capture hungry world markets where Pakistani mangoes, dates and kinnow in particular, are in great demand,” said Jawad. Similarly in the rice sector, the $2b in rice exports originates from Punjab. Similarly, the production of Irri-6 is in Sindh and Punjab which also comes under the mandate of TDAP.

He further stressed that the only way to capture the global market is to process, add value and improve the shelf life of the perishable commodities to benefit small farmers and also the country at large. Jawad also stressed upon the Ministry of Commerce and Planning Commission to draft and implement the horticulture export policy for the period of 2015-20 on priority and enlist the yearly allocation in the PSDP (Public Sector Development Programme) after due consultation from FPCCI.