May 22, 2020: The export of Pakistani mango faces stiff challenge of it’s history this year due to coronavirus Pandemic coupled with serious negative impact of the climatic changes. Low production of mango as result of the climatic changes and strict global lockdown led to sharp decline in demand of Pakistani mango by the importing countries while marked reduction in flight operations and an extra-ordinary increase in freight charges with economic recession in international markets, the export of mango encounters very serious challenge now!
All Pakistan Fruit & Vegetable Exporters, Importers & Merchants Association (PFVA) keeping the above stated factors in view has limited export target of mango to 80,000 metric ton this year which is 50,000 ton less , compared to the last year export target of mango set at 130000 ton. With marked reduction in the export target this year, the revenue generation of valuable foreign exchange would equally be seriously impacted. Last year with mango export of 130000 ton , the country earned valuable foreign exchange amounting to USD 90 million while it’s feared to be limited to USD 50 million during this year .
According to Waheed Ahmed, Patron-in-Chief PFVA, the current mango season is in state of high uncertainty due to global coronavirus Pandemic, and thus the export of mango is anticipated to be reduced by 40% in comparison to the last year. The global Pandemic has led to shut down of International importing markets of Pakistani mangoes including Europe & USA.
Due to shut down of Airlines, tourism industry & shopping malls because of strict global lockdown there has been significant drop in demands of various items and the demand of mango is likely to be equally affected likewise. The Airlines, on other hand due to curtailment of it’s operation have enhanced it’s freight charges three times. The Airlines which were charging Rs.175 per kilo last year are now demanding Rs. 550 per kilo for the Europe while the freight charge of Rs.80 per kilo to the Gulf countries has been enhanced to Rs. 240 per kilo this year which has multiplied cost of the mango export consignment exorbitantly.
Of the total export volume of mango, 55% is exported by Sea , 20% by Air and 25% by land routes but due to exorbitant increase in freight charges by the Airlines the by Air export of mango is feared to be reduced by 70% this year – Waheed cautioned .. On other hand, the export of mango to Iran & Afghanistan via land routes is likely to encounter difficulties either due to global lockdown or closure of the borders for exercising precautionary measures in wake of coronavirus Pandemic. The flight operation to several importing countries of Pakistani mangoes has not yet been resumed and similarly the flights which are operating with “changed schedule” are also posing a serious threat to the export of mango. Even if Pakistani mango exporters export mango to the Europe by absorbing higher freight charges, there is no guarantee that these shipments would be cleared in time and reach to the consumers.
Not only export of fresh Mango but the value-added mango products like mango pulp exports have also started experiencing declining and domestic consumption also declined significantly and this ill –effects are anticipated to become pronounced during the current mango season. Due to closure of hotels, academic institutions,tourism and shopping malls, the demand of juices has dropped remarkably which is adversely affecting export of mango pulp as well as drastic reduction in demand locally. The importing countries of Pakistani mango pulp have already curtailed their orders while due to significant drop in consumption of juices locally, its feared that the revenue generation from export of mango pulp as well local sale is anticipated to be dropped by 35% .
According to Waheed Ahmed , the coronavirus Pandemic has only surfaced this year while negative impact of the climatic changes are being felt for last five years leading to low production while the mango crop is now taking additional two weeks to get matured and hence harvesting period now increased . Simultaneously with this serious challenge, the mango engulfed with several diseases is finding it difficult to cope up with the diseases due to reduction in it’s natural capacity to defend against such diseases and hence these factors have resulted in significant drop in its production. The province of Punjab which has share of 70% in total production of mango in the country now faces reduction of 35% in it’s production while the province of Sindh faces reduction of 15% from it’s usual share of 29% in total production of mango in the country during the current season.
It’s unfortunate that so far no sincere efforts have been initiated to conduct comprehensive research & development (R&D) to analyse serious ill-effects resulting from climatic changes on Agriculture sector in general and Horticulture sector (Fruits & Vegetables) in particular so that the growers & farmers can be rendered guidance while the financial losses emerging due to low production can be averted. The PFVA has already issued a comprehensive road map – “Pakistan Horticulture Vision 2030” to the Federal & Provincial Govts. for R&D and by it’s effective implementation , the agriculture sector of the country can be safeguarded against menace of the climatic changes – Waheed informed .
The mango exporting companies have never encountered such a depressing situation as it face now being in high state of uncertainty and thus mango exporters are too cautious as well , taking each step ahead with critical analysis of the prevailing situation around. The exporters have now changed their trade strategy for exporting mango by Air due to abnormal increase in freight charges and instead switching over most of their exports to sea now.
Waheed Ahmed stressed upon the Federal Govt. to extend freight subsidy to the “ By Air mango exporters” so as to make up their losses resulting due to higher air freight charges and enabling them to compete in international markets particularly in Europe & USA in wake of challenges emerged due to COVID -19 . Similarly the Govt. must play it’s role to ensure that the reduction in fare of goods transports due to marked drop in the prices of petroleum products shall be passed on to the exporters since as of now the goods transporters have not yet reduced cost of fare as was being anticipated .
For adopting essential preventive measures against spread of Corovirus pandemic by the mango orchards, Factories, & Public houses, the cost of production is also increasing and hence the Govt. shall also consider extending financial assistance to the exporters as compensation on cost incurred in taking preventive measures. Provision of safety face masks, sanitizers, thermal devices and safety clothes & other related accessories by the Govt. to the industries would certainly assist industries to face serious challenges of the global pandemic – Wheed added. To achieve export target of mango this year, it’s imperative to have close co-optation and support from various export-related departments namely – Plant Protection, Customs, Sea ports & Airport authorities – Waheed emphasized.