Dr Saeed Ahmad Ali
The prevailing situation of COVID-19 globally has compelled the world to consume a variety of fruits and vegetables, especially orange (Kinnow) which contains maximum vitamins to minimize the ill effects and risks and enhance immunity against the pandemic.
The grapes are the largest fruit production in the world, while the citrus fruits fall at second position, and Brazil is the leading citrus producing and exporting country across the globe. Whereas, Pakistan stands among the top ten citrus producing countries having a lower export than the production quantity, Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) statistics say.
Kinnow being the largest produced fruit in Pakistan possesses all the potential of becoming the major exportable fruit commodity of the country.Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government while sensing hardships in exporting fruits through air transportation , had marked a comprehensive plan to export Kinnow by using alternative transportation routes of land and sea.The federal government promptly resolved the issues related to the Kinnow export to Iran and Afghanistan by removing obstacles and increasing fruit quality enhancement.
To enhance the fruit and vegetable export figure, the All Pakistan Fruit and Vegetable Exporters, Importers and Merchants Association (PFVA) has recently submitted a concise road map plan to the federal government.
This road map titled ‘Horticulture Vision 2030’ had been devised with extensive consultation of actors and experts of all regions and provinces of the country in the horticulture sector with a solution and easy-adoptable line of action, while bringing maximum benefits in a short span of time.
As per data received from the All Pakistan Fruit and Vegetable Exporters, Importers and Merchants Association (PFVA) Pakistan has hit record increase in export of fruits and vegetables of 12.5 percent amounting to $730 million during fiscal year 2019-20, despite the novel coronavirus supply and transport obstacles.
It may be mentioned here that due to the effective measures taken by the government, the fruits’ export was enhanced by 3.8 percent during the last year, while the vegetables reflected an increase in export by 28 percent.
Likewise, export of fruits fetched $431.27 million while export of the vegetables generated US $30 million, it reflects.
Both business bodies of the country agreed that Kinnow exports had the potential to grow beyond the $1bn mark within a few years. At present, Pakistan exports less than 10pc of its grossly under-produced crop, report reveals.
By using science and biotechnology measures per-acre yields in Spain, Morocco and even Turkey are around 450-500 maunds as compared to Pakistan’s average of 150 maunds, it reads.
Pakistan Horticulture Development and Export Company (PHDEC) noted exporter Waheed Ahmed said that to attain a profitable fruit yields, the orchards ecosystem services could be increased by light carbon allocation spaces, interceptions , nitrogen and water uptake processes, adding, agricultural practices in orchards have a strong impact on ecosystem formations.
Over use of fertilizers to the orange orchards could enhance leaching of the nitrogen which reduces the quality and damage the soil-nitrogen availability for the plant by deteriorating the quality of drained water, he informed.
Pakistan Agricultural Research Council (PARC) director Dr. Abdul waheed while describing the perennial character and multi-strata habitat of the orange orchard ecosystem, said that the first thing was that orchards had a high potential of multiple services said and added that the orchards could be sequestered from 2.4 to 12.5 t C/ha/year.
He said that the plantation of diversified hedgerows around the orchards and cover-crops in alleys (orchard spaces), might contribute to a high level of biodiversity and profits to the growers.
“Timely pruning of the plants might increase fruit quality through a healthy carbon allocation in the pile of orchard, but increases pest attacks by fostering the dynamics of aphids,” he added.
To study multiple ecosystem services in orchards of different agricultural lands, “We suggest various models applications which are more capable of simulating ecosystem services’ profiles and their variation according to habitat and climatic needs and their management scenarios,” he replied to a query.
The latest scientific knowledge of fertility variations, soil processes and carbon balance awareness as well as profitable yields-models which address multiple services, were necessary to foster research on orchards’ ecosystem and their relationship with soil and climate, he explained.
Niaz Ahmad Chaudhry, a team member of National Agricultural Research Centre (NARC), and a former director of Citrus Research Institute (CRI) told APP that he, with his team, had developed a seedless ‘Kinnow’ by using a selection method.
He informed that only 2.6 percent of Kinnow exports target was the developed countries’ markets, whose demand was emerging for seedless variety, adding about 61 percent of total world exports of oranges and mandarins are of seedless varieties.The major target export markets of Pakistani ‘Kinnow’ are those of developing countries including Iran, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Oman, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines Afghanistan, Netherlands, United Kingdom, Singapore, Russia and Vietnam. Indonesia, a close Muslim country and friend of Pakistan has also offered market access to Kinnow, from Pakistan at zero per cent tariff.
Meanwhile, more than 40 percent of the Pakistani exports of Kinnows went to Russia in 2015.Internally, the prices of Kinnow in Pakistan dropped more than 50 percent between the years 2016 to 2020.To a query regarding horticulture vision 2030, he said that by effective implementation of the proposed vision initiative, Pakistan could easily enhance fruits and vegetables’ export to US $1 billion within a period of two years, US $2 billion in five years while $6 billion in a decade. The vision would help generate employment opportunities to 1.8 million people within a period of five years who were directly engaged in this sector, while around 3 million people will get employment in this sector within a period of ten years.
— The writer is working with Associated Press of Pakistan (APP)