October 10, 2019: Agricultural sector remains an important contributor in sustainability of Pakistan’s economy. This key sector could not attract the due attention of previous political regimes despite clear realization of its significance. The major exportable agricultural commodities of Pakistan are rice, mango, potato, citrus, onion and tomato beside others, which contribute in foreign exchange earnings for the country. Agro-exports are facing challenges like compliance to Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) Agreement of WTO and the stringent import requirements of high-end markets framed thereunder.
The contemporary political regime through the Ministry of National Food Security and Research (MNFSR) has established a liaison with the stakeholders including exporter associations, growers and concerned departments to create an enabling environment for boosting exports.
Resultantly, this year in the 2019, the fresh mango export has achieved record increase of exports by 30 percent as compared to the last few years while the mango export is still continued. Mango export figures of this year are 110,050 Matric Tons (MT) whereas these were 77,115 MT in 2018 and 65,751 MT in 2017 as per the data generated as a result of issuance of Phytosanitary Certificates (PC) issued by Department of Plant Protection (DPP), a wing of MNFSR. Likewise, tomato export increased by 93.8 percent by achieving export figures of 14,233.14 MT as compare to 881.52 MT in 2018 and 681.33 MT in 2017.
Similarly, Potato export has increased by 51.69 percent with figures of 324,690 MT for this year whilst it was 156,890.34 MT in 2018. The quantum of Citrus export has been maintained and has not decreased despite the lower production due to environmental factors. Increase in exports has also been expected in onion export season. The contributing factors in this boost in agro-exports are the effective coordination among stakeholders, compliance to the provisions of WTO-SPS agreement, awareness campaigns and encouragement of local production through regulating imports.
It is pertinent to mention that this year the country experienced a serious Desert Locust invasion after a gap of two decades. The MNFSR through coordinated efforts contained the Desert Locust in desert areas though effective ground and aerial control operations and saved the Kharif crops in the cultivated areas notably cotton and rice of worth million dollars.
Hence, the textile industry and rice export have been kept sustained. The MNFSR has been working to invest in the agriculture sector by declaring agricultural emergency to ensure sustainability in food security, gradual decrease in reliance on imports, and earn more foreign exchange for the wellbeing of Pakistan.