ISLAMABAD, Feb 28 (APP): President Dr Arif Alvi on Sunday said value-addition of horticulture produce was crucial for Pakistan to boost its exports and get an edge in the highly competitive international market.
Addressing at a seminar on ‘Trade Potential of Pakistan Citrus – From Roots to Trade Routes’, the President said it was important for the country to improve quality standards of local fresh fruit with improved packaging and preservation to attract high-end markets.
The seminar organized by Ministry of Commerce and Sargodha Chamber of Commerce & Industry here at Aiwan-e-Sadr was attended by traders, exporters and horticulture experts of citrus.
President Alvi said Pakistan was rich in production of citrus being the world’s sixth largest producer of superior quality Kinnow, however stressed an effective policy to broaden the scope of exports.
He said phytosanitation – a systematic approach of pest prevention in food crops, and organic farming could enhance yields besides reducing the chances of rejection by the importing countries citing ‘unsafe’ produce.
He mentioned that China, Japan, Korea and several other developed countries could prove attractive markets for Pakistan’s fresh fruits and emphasized the need for adopting to their stringent food standard policies.
Dr Alvi said food security was important for economic stability, adding that water conservation and bio-diversity were need of the hour.
He expressed concern that improper treatment and preservation of crops mainly wheat and rice resulted in infestation and led to loss of quality stuff for export purposes.
The President called for investment in phytosanitation and applicable market-related research as a ‘way forward to translate benefit of yield into revenue’.
He urged exporters to be mindful of presentation of packaged fruits by sorting out blemish-free produce and ensuring preservation timeline from production till delivery to consumer.
Dr Alvi said embassies could play an important role in introducing the country’s fruits to the taste-buds of consumers across the world by organizing festivals particularly of Kinnow, mangoes and apricots.
He recalled that as President of Pakistan, he sent the gift of Pakistan’s King fruit mango to the world leaders as goodwill gesture.
The President visited the stalls of citrus with a variety of Kinnows, Musambi, Eureka Lemon and Grapefruit put on display and lauded the efforts of Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP) and Sargodha Chamber of Commerce & Industry.
Earlier, Minister for National Food Security Syed Fakhar Imam said the country’s 24,000 hectares land was producing citrus with this year’s production recorded 2.3 million ton.
He said putting in place an effective phytosanitation system for pre-shipment examination was key to address the problems of pests.
Secretary Chamber of Commerce & Industries Muhammad Saleh Ahmed Farooqi said the country recorded 25 percent growth of citrus fruit in first seven months this fiscal year.
He said the government was working on a strategy to set up National Export Development Fund to be headed by the Prime Minister, which will galvanize partnership between academia and industry for best yield and exports.
President Sargodha Chamber of Commerce & Industries Malik Asif Ameer said Sargodha was known as ‘California of Pakistan’ for its citrus orchards with over 160 processing units.
He suggested removal of impediments by establishing Free Trade Agreements and setting up a dry port in the city to capture bigger citrus market.
With total production of around 2.3 million tons, Pakistan exports annually about 0.44 million tons of citrus valued at around US$166 million.
Pakistan produces more than 30 types of different fruits amongst which citrus leads with a share of about 30 percent of the total fruit production.
About 20 percent of citrus produced in Pakistan is exported to over 30 countries including high-end and regional markets.