Kinnow exports reach historic high
Pakistan has achieved another milestone by exporting a historically high quantity of kinnow in the 2020-21 season, fuelled by an increase in demand due to Covid-19.
The country achieved a new record by exporting 460,000 tons of kinnow during the export season 2020-21, which was 30% higher compared to previous year’s export volume of 353,000 tons.
Talking to The Express Tribune, Adviser to Prime Minister on Commerce Abdul Razak Dawood said that Pakistan had achieved record kinnow exports in 2020-21, which spoke volumes about the quality of the fruit.
“It will also open new export destinations for our kinnow produce and create job opportunities in Pakistan,” he said. “I also want to congratulate our exporters and the All Pakistan Fruit and Vegetable Exporters Association for their efforts to make this possible,” he added.
“Our objective is to export globally and we are working hard on this philosophy,” the adviser said.
“During the pandemic, the demand for kinnow has surged significantly as the fruit plays a vital role in strengthening the human immune system and protects from the deadly disease,” said an official of the All Pakistan Fruit and Vegetable Exporters, Importers and Merchants Association (PFVA).
During the export season that concluded in April 2021, Pakistan exported kinnow to 40 countries.
“Pakistan earned valuable foreign exchange worth $253 million through the export of citrus fruit,” said PFVA Patronin-Chief Waheed Ahmed. He added that the country surpassed the export target of 350,000 tons by a huge margin.
Despite the record export of kinnow, exporters sustained mammoth financial losses because they had booked orders when the rupee was at 168 to a dollar, but at the time of receiving payments, the rupee had appreciated to 153 against the greenback, said Ahmed.
He lamented that Pakistani kinnow failed to fetch fair prices in the international market due to lockdowns while a disproportionate increase in freight cost inflated the losses. He highlighted that the largest loss was borne by exporters in the Russian market.
“Some of the export consignments of the fruit could not reach international markets due to lockdowns and problems with transportation and resultantly, the quality of entire shipment deteriorated,” he said.
“Several export consignments reached international markets simultaneously due to logistic issues, which ultimately caused the damping of a massive chunk, hence the cost of export shipments could not be recovered and the exporters sustained huge losses.”
During the Covid-19 pandemic, the export of kinnow to Afghanistan and Iran was suspended due to the closure of borders, however, the Ministry of Commerce and Ministry of Interior played an active role and facilitated the export of the fruit as soon as the borders were re-opened, he said.
“Due to timely intervention of the Ministry of Commerce, Pakistan International Airlines aided exporters in shipping fruits and vegetables abroad,” he appreciated.
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Exporters were able to send kinnow consignments to the UK after a gap of seven years following the nation exited the European Union.
During his visit to Iran, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi persuaded the Iranian government to withdraw the ban on import of Pakistani kinnow, which would further enhance exports as the neighbouring market could import over 80,000 tons, Ahmed said.
Production of citrus fruit faces numerous challenges, which include outdated orchards having less resistance against various diseases, low quality seeds, poor cosmetic look, limited varieties and short window for exports for only three to four months.
“We can enhance kinnow exports by eliminating diseases from the existing varieties and developing new varieties with higher yield per acre through research and development,” he said.
“Export of Pakistani kinnow can be enhanced to $1 billion within a few years by implementing effective policies.”