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Dwindling Exports and Struggling Value-Added Sector Impact Mango Growers in Pakistan

Immigration News

In this picture taken on June 15, 2022, a farm worker packs a mango in a box at a farm outside Mirpur Khas city in Pakistan’s southern Sindh province. Mango farmers in Pakistan say production of the prized fruit has fallen by up to 40 percent in some areas because of high temperatures and water shortages in a country identified as one of the most vulnerable to climate change. (Photo by Rizwan TABASSUM / AFP) / TO GO WITH ‘PAKISTAN-MANGOES-CLIMATE’ – To go with ‘Pakistan-Mangoes-Climate’

Pakistan’s mangoes, once a reliable source of export earnings, are facing a significant decline in production and quality. Trade disruptions, unsupportive domestic policies, and climate change have adversely affected the mango industry for the third consecutive year.

This year, Pakistani traders have reduced their export target from 125,000 tonnes to 100,000 tonnes due to lower production and average quality, both attributed to the negative effects of climate change. High temperatures and water shortages have become major concerns for mango growers across the country.

Pakistan produces approximately 1.8 million tonnes of mangoes annually. However, the output this year is expected to be around 1.2 million tonnes, a significant drop according to the All Pakistan Fruit and Vegetable Exporters Association. “The effects of climate change have emerged as the biggest threat to mango production, which can well be gauged from the fact that mango production has declined for the third year in a row,” said Waheed Ahmed, patron-in-chief of the association.

In 2022, mango production declined by around 50 percent. In 2023, the output saw a 20 percent dip, making the previous export target of 125,000 tonnes difficult to achieve. About a decade ago, Pakistan’s mango exports surpassed those of India, the largest mango producer, in terms of value. However, Pakistan has struggled to maintain that momentum.

The Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) cited higher temperatures, water scarcity, and issues with transportation and supply chain as reasons for the lower production of mangoes and other fruits. “Mango exports have traditionally contributed substantially to Pakistan’s foreign exchange earnings. Regrettably, this source of foreign exchange has been adversely affected,” stated the PBS’ 2023 annual report on external trade statistics.

The adverse weather conditions have led to a deterioration in the quality of mangoes, directly impacting exports. “The impact of climate change is having a pronounced negative impact on mango orchards in Pakistan, leading to a significant reduction in production. Due to the non-availability of export-quality mangoes, the export target could not be attained last year as well,” Ahmed explained.

Traders have criticized the Pakistani government for not focusing on research and development (R&D) that could help address the problems faced by mango growers. They highlighted issues such as the development of new seed varieties, agri-tech, awareness, and farming operations. Another reason for the dwindling mango exports cited by the traders was “favouritism” by Pakistan’s Department of Plant Protection (DPP).

Traders allege that the DPP allowed around 90 percent of hot water treatment plants to operate, affecting the quality of mangoes exported. Additionally, the DPP reportedly lacks the infrastructure and trained manpower required to meet the compliance standards of phytosanitary import conditions issued by countries like the US, Australia, Japan, and the European Union.

The food processing sector is also struggling due to rising costs of electricity, gas, transportation, garden maintenance, pesticides, and water management. The imposition of a 20 percent excise duty on top of an 18 percent Goods and Services Tax has further crippled the sector, leading to reduced interest from fruit juice companies in purchasing mangoes. “Not a single company has contacted me so far for the purchase of the mangoes left over from export,” said Mubashar Durrani, a mango grower from Multan.

As a result, farmers are unable to earn fair remuneration and must sell their mango produce at lower rates in the domestic market. “Most of our produce is exported, but demand fluctuates. During declines, we sell to local pulp producers who then supply juice makers,” said Fayyaz Chaudhry, another mango grower from Multan. Given the highly perishable nature of mango varieties grown in Pakistan, farmers are often forced to sell their produce at throwaway prices in the absence of export and value-added facilities.

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