MULTAN (July 30 2007): Pakistan will achieve its mango production target which has been fixed at 1.6 million tons for the current year in spite of unfair weather and disease, said president Pakistan Mango Growers Association (PMGA) Zahid Hussain Gardezi.
Talking to journalists here on Sunday, he said with a bumper mango crop, the export target of 120,000 tons will also be achieved.
`There is a great potential to increase mango exports by 400 percent, as the government is interested in removing the bottlenecks and establishing the required infrastructure to achieve the objective,` he remarked. He said `we are trying to get our mango certified from Europe under the GAP (Good Agricultural Practices) so that Pakistan`s mango can be exported to the US and European countries`.
He said that the certificate will be for specific orchards complying with GAP and the importers will buy the fruit directly from these orchards. The PMGA chief disclosed that Pakistan and Australia are working on a joint venture titled `Agriculture sector linkage programme` to develop infrastructure that will prolong the shelf life of mango crop. `This can be prolonged at least by one month through a proper cold chain system,` he added.
The government is also working on a plan to create a `Support Fund` for the preservation of the fruit so that farmers may get a better price for their mango yield.
Gardezi said the PMGA has sought help from the chief operation officer, Pakistan Horticulture Development and Export Board (PHDEB) Muhammad Iqbal, to attract more exporters to south Punjab, a region which produces 70 percent of the mango crop while 30 percent of the fruit is produced in Sindh.
`Growers wish to provide quality mango at affordable rate to the masses, however, the middleman or broker, continues to fleece both sides by paying just Rs 10 per kg to the farmer and selling it for Rs 40 per kg to the consumer,` he observed.
He said once the cold chain system is developed here, the consumer will be able to buy the fruit at cheaper rates directly from the orchard, while the exporter will also get quality mango for higher foreign exchange earnings.
Special `mango quality laboratory` will be set up here in the current fiscal year, at a cost of Rs 28.7 million to ensure the quality of the mango crop, protect it from pests and diseases and help provide longevity. `District Rahim Yar Khan is renowned for the superb quality of its mango, as well as for its high yield and we intend to maintain and build further on our reputation in this regard,` said Gardezi.
Apart from the lab, a special hall costing Rs 3 million will be built as training premises for mango growers as well as other farmers, he added. `The district government is focussing on agricultural uplift, with a number of soft loans for small farmers, livestock development and other incentives and training programmes for the farming community,` he said.