MULTAN-A Saudi foodstuffs company has expressed its interest in purchasing mango pulp from Multan’s Agro Food Processing Plant and an MoU in this regard is likely to be inked very soon.

Operation Director of Al-Fakhoor Trading Muhammad Naeem met with the President of Multan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MCCI) Khawaja Muhammad Usman here on Saturday and visited the plant. The plant was completed with a spending of Rs 321.889 million jointly by the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Authority (SMEDA) and Punjab Small Industries Corporation (PSIC) to help mango growers achieve value-added returns of their produce.

Talking to the MCCI President, the Saudi businessman said that Saudi Arabia was a big market for the mangoes, citrus and other fresh fruits of Pakistan but now we have planned to purchase pulp of peach, mango and other fruits. He said that Pakistan was producing pulp of different fruits of international standards but it was not being exported because transportation facility was not available in remote area of Pakistan.

MCCI President Khawaja Usman briefed him that AFP plant could not only make mango pulp, but also make guava pulp and apple puree, apart from tomato puree.

He said that Pakistan could earn over $400 million through fruits and vegetable exports and value-added fruit pulp to Saudi Arabia and Central Asian markets.

 He said that the traders of two countries could work for exploring trade opportunities in the region especially horticultural products which could ultimately benefit millions of people across farms and factories.

 Aiming at increasing its exports of mango fruit, we have geared efforts to adopting international standards, including hot-water technology and stringent quality control measures during several stages of the production, processing, packing and export of this delicious fruit, which is popularly called ‘king of fruits.’

He said that Pakistan has started hot-water treatment this year and Quarantine Department would inspect and satisfy itself about the application of hot-water treatment to mangoes. This step is being taken to forestall the possibility of any ban on export of mango fruit to the EU countries. Recently, the EU has put a ban on five variants of the fruit from India after detecting pest in the Indian mangoes, he added.

Khawaja Usman said that Hot-water technology and processing by mechanical plants has increased the shelf life of the mango fruit up to 40 days by making the pulp of the fruit free from nine bacteria elements. Increase in shelf life of the fruit, it is believed, would help in increasing the export of Pakistani mangoes, earning more foreign exchange for the country and becoming instrumental in the expansion of its agro-based sector.