How technology can help Pakistan’s mango economy595 views
By Muhammad Luqman
Malik Mazhar Sandheela, the owner of an orchard near river Chenab in Multan is eying a 100 percent increase in the income from his mango crop this year.
To him, adoption of new production and pest management techniques have led to increase in the per hectare yield of the Chaunsa Mango, the prime variety of the fruit liked equally in Pakistan and abroad.
He believes that proper pruning of the leafy canopy of the tree, efficient pest management and mechanical harvesting of the mango fruit are paying the dividend to the mango growers in Southern Punjab.
He has been supplying the fruit to pulp units for manufacturing of juices and other value-added products.
But such farms are just islands of improved productivity amidst the sea of farms still stuck to the traditional cultivation and harvesting practices that keep the mango yield low as compared to the other countries like Mexico, India and China.
India with a production of 15 million tonnes tops on the table of mango producing coutries, followed by China with 4.3 million, Thailand with 2.6 million , Indonesia with 2.1 million and Pakistan with 1.9 million. About 80 percent of the total world mango production is contributed by 10 countries.
Horticulture experts believe that the development of the dwarf varieties of the mango fruit and the adoption of Good Agricultural Practices can help increase the production and even the exports from Pakistan which form only 5 percent of the total production. Pakistan is a home to more than two dozen varieties of mangoes.
But Sindhri, Langra, Chaunsa, Fajri, Samar Bahisht, Anwar Ratole, Dusehri, Saroli, Tota Pari, Neelam and Maldah are the mainly grown varieties. Among these Chaunsa with peculiar aroma and taste is the leading variety, relished a lot at home and the abroad.
About 85% of Pakistani mango exports are shipped to Dubai. The rest are exported to around 25-30 countries in various parts of the world. The prominent among them include Saudi Arabia, the U.K., Bahrain and Singapore.
The United States that attracts about 43 percent of the total mango exports of the world, has never been a formal destination of Pakistani mangoes. Only consignment-based exports are being made to America and some European countries.
Non-compliance to the phytosanitary conditions is the major hurdle in Pakistani exports to the high-end and quality conscious markets of mango in the world. One can still find wooden crates in Multan and Mirpur Khas being used for packing of the mangoes despite the fact these have become obsolete all over the world. Now it is the corrugated board boxes that are used for the packing of this delicious fruit. The issue of fruit fly is also hampering the exports. This issue can be resolved by Hot Water Treatment Plant and the Irradiation facilities across the country.
At the moment, only couple of hot water treatment plants are working in Lahore and Karachi while only one Food Irradiation plant is operational in Lahore with much lesser capacity to handle the mango export consignments. There is also need of diversifying the geographical destinations of Pakistani mangoes by focusing more on Malaysia, Hong Kong and Singapore in the Far East and the Netherlands, France, the U.K. and Germany in Europe. The non-existence of enough processing facilities like pulp and dehydration units lead to consumption of the fruit in just the time window that spans for just 3 months, leaving rest of the 9 months of the year mango less. This is the reason, most of the mango is consumed as table fruit or desserts. The processing plants use less than 10 percent of the total production for preparation of juices, jams, jellies, nectars as well as crisp mango chips, which are eaten as snacks.
The technological interventions across the supply chain of the mangoes in Pakistan, can help make this important fruit a major source of foreign exchange.
News Source Samaa