MULTAN: The agriculture department will set up a Mango Research Station (MRS) at Rahim Yar Khan to improve quality and increase production of the fruit.
This was stated by Punjab Agriculture Secretary Muhammad Mehmood while addressing a mango seminar which was organised at the auditorium of the Central Cotton Research Institute (CCRI).
He said that mango processing units were also being installed to increase the export of mangoes. “The future of the country's export is linked with high value agriculture,” he added.
Mehmood pointed out that a number of projects to bring reforms in the agriculture sector had been initiated by the Punjab government.
The agriculture secretary said that Pakistan was exporting just 6% of its total mango production, which could be increased by improving the quality of mangoes as per the criteria of international markets.
He said that harvesting and spray machines were being imported which would be helpful for mango farmers to increase their production, besides reducing labour cost.
Earlier, Mango Research Station (MRS) In Charge Abdul Ghaffar Grewal said that despite the cutting of mango orchards for residential purposes in suburban areas of South Punjab, cultivation area was on the rise.
Water scarcity threatens mango crop in South Punjab
“In the past, mango growers were not taking a keen interest in improving mango cultivation, but now they are improving quality due to the handsome earnings from export.”
Official statistics revealed that mango orchards were located on 117,000 hectares in the province in 2011-12, while the cultivation area increased to 180,000 hectares in 2015-16. “The mango crop is turning into an industry and offering handsome returns to the growers,” he added.
About the increased area, the MRS in charge said different programmes, including Australia Pakistan Agriculture Sector Linkages Programme, USAID and the Punjab agriculture department, provided a much needed helping hand. He added the assistance improved the quality of fruit, imparted training to growers on managing orchards and allowed the agriculture sector to follow export standards.
“The income of growers has increased manifold and this is the basic reason behind the increase in cultivation area.”
The expert pointed out that millions of mango plants were being planted annually in South Punjab. He said there were over 35 mango nurseries in Multan, adding that almost every one sells more than 50,000 plants during the season.
Besides, he said the MRI was also providing a nursery to the growers. “I know over 100 progressive growers who have enhanced mango cultivation remarkably. The future of mango crop is bright.” Grewal said China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) will enhance export of mangoes, while Pakistani growers will find a large space in international markets.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 7th, 2018.
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