KARACHI: Lockdowns and climate change have severely impacted the agriculture sector as the maturity of mango crops in Sindh and Punjab has been delayed by two weeks.
Owing to the absence of required temperature and humid climate, the mango season of 2020 is likely to be put off by a couple of weeks.
All Pakistan Fruit and Vegetable Exporters, Importers and Merchants Association (PFVA) Patron-in-Chief Waheed Ahmed said keeping these factors in view, his association had requested the Ministry of Commerce to extend the date for mango export by 12 days and set it at June 1, 2020.
In a statement on Friday, Ahmed expressed concern that climate change had started taking a heavy toll on Pakistan's agriculture by impacting major crops.
He highlighted that the Ministry of Commerce had fixed May 20 as the date for the beginning of mango export, however, if exports commenced at a time when the fruit was not ripe, it would badly hurt the credibility of Pakistan's exporters in international markets.
"The mango crop is still not ready to be harvested," remarked Ahmed. "If the original date of export (May 20) is followed, the exporters will ship unripe and unsuitable mangoes." He recalled that Pakistan sustained hefty losses last year due to the export of premature mangoes.
"Pakistani mangoes are liked globally due to their delicious taste, specific aroma and eye-catching appearance, and these inherent characteristics develop only when the crop is fully ripe," Ahmed elaborated.
Hence, the export of premature mangoes would not meet expectations of consumers and the credibility of the country would weaken, he said.
He voiced fear that the exporters were likely to experience difficulties in receiving fair prices of mango in the international market.
"The mango crop usually matures by mid-May, however, this year it is anticipated to be delayed by two weeks and export of unripe mango will not be in the best interest of the country," he said. "On the other hand, adequate preparations related to the transportation of labour to mango orchards for picking and packaging cannot be made due to lockdown."
In a letter addressed to the Ministry of Commerce, the PFVA requested an extension in the date of export to June 1 instead of May 20 so that ripe mangoes with inherent characteristics could be shipped abroad.
The letter stated that under the current Covid-19 crisis, earning of much-needed foreign exchange through exports was vital to support the hard-pressed economy. The association anticipated a favourable response from the ministry keeping in view the supreme interest of the country.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 9th, 2020.
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