MULTAN (August 30 2008): First of three Produce Marketing Organisations (PMOs) being supported by the Agribusiness Support Fund (ASF) to get their mango orchards GlobalGAP certified will go through external (final) audit on September 2, 2008.
Progressive Mango Growers having 720 acres of land and 3000 tons of annual production is the first PMO to undergo the audit, which will enable them to have access to high value European markets, big super stores and chain stores across the world.
The ASF has extended a grant of around Rs four million to these three PMOs on 50-50 basis to upgrade their orchards, related facilities, develop a record-keeping system in their orchards right from plantation of a plant, production, packaging and grading of the produce which is a prerequisite to fetch high value for the fruit in the European and other markets.
ASF Chief Monitoring Grants, Ahmad Ali Shah while talking to a group of journalists during their orientation tour to mango orchards going through GlobalGAP certification process said that they had started this project last year for mango growers keeping in view the tough requirements laid down by the European and high value markets so as enabling the growers to fetch maximum produce for their fruits. He said that three PMOs applied with the ASF for grants in this regard.
He stated that the European food retailers and the Euro-Retailer Produce Working Group (EUREP) represents leading European food retailers and aims to promote good production practices in the agricultural sector in order to ensure food safety. EUREP has developed a framework for Good Agricultural Practice, called EUREPGAP, and elaborated these into specific standards for the production of fruits and vegetables, combinable crops, livestock, feed and flowers.
Later this certification had been named as GlobalGAP recently. This is an important international production standard for suppliers of agricultural products to the retail sector, for suppliers of the participating European supermarkets.
Ahmad Shah said that this would enable has to have a good 3000 tonnes of certified fruit available to tap the potential of European as well as non traditional markets such as Singapore. The members of PMOs have already toured Singapore and soon will be visiting UK to make room for their produce, he added.
Energetic and vocal Major Muhammad Tariq Khan (Retd) while showing the visiting journalists improved orchards, storage and packing house facilities said that this certification require hygiene, safety and quality and covers the topics traceability, record keeping, varieties and root-stocks, site history and site management, soil and substrate management, fertiliser usage, irrigation, crop protection, harvesting, post-harvest treatments, waste and pollution management, recycling, worker health, safety and welfare, environmental issues and internal audits.
Head of the Progressive Mango Growers group, Saleem Alizai appreciating the ASF and its support to the farmers said that now the government should also play its role for promotion of mango exports. He said that they needed a full-fledged packaging house, ripening chambers, blast chillers and a big airport at Multan which could entertain wide body cargo carriers to curtail the shipment time.