KARACHI: Pakistani mango exporters are facing serious problems in the United Kingdom, where the quarantine department is disposing off almost all consignments from Pakistan because of the presence of fruit flies.
The situation has deteriorated to the point that many exporters have halted shipments of mango to the UK, fearing more losses if the situation persists.
“The Government of Pakistan and the concerned ministries have to immediately take notice of this situation because it is hurting the country’s name. We have to control the presence of fruit flies in our shipments, otherwise Pakistani fruits could face a complete ban in Europe,” Pakistan Fruits and Vegetables Exporters Association (PFVA) Chairman Waheed Ahmed told The Express Tribune.
Mango is one of the top fruit exports of Pakistan, and its ban in any European country could badly hurt its overall exports of 18,000 tons to Europe. Home to huge Pakistani and Indian diaspora communities, the UK is a major market for Pakistan. Pakistan exports 8,000 tons of mangoes to this country alone.
Industry officials say that the UK’s quarantine policies are getting stricter every year, and Pakistan faces serious damage to its exports if it fails to control fruit diseases, including fruit flies.
“This is a warning sign for Pakistan. If the Pakistani government and fruit growers do not mend their ways, they would lose not only the UK, but many more countries,” Ahmed warned.
Elaborating on the issue, Ahmed said that exporters can do little about controlling fruit diseases or pests. “The main responsibility lies with fruit growers and the government that they realise that fruit diseases are on the rise. If they are not controlled, they will increase in the future,” he warned.
“Pakistan has to take both short and long-term measures to tackle the rising menace of fruit flies and other diseases. The private sector is ready to work with government departments to this end,” he added.
Fruit flies damages the exterior of fruits and vegetables, making them unfit for human consumption. This is why the quarantine departments of countries enforce strict laws to discourage imports of fruits and vegetables that are affected from such pests.
Exporters expect that the total production of mangoes may touch 1.55 million tons this year, up from a million tons last year. An export target of 0.175 million tons has been set for this year, and the fruit may fetch $60 million if it exporters successfully meet the target.
The new markets currently being explored by Pakistani exporters are Japan, South Korea and Mauritius. Pakistan already exports the fruit to 40 countries of the world, including Canada, Germany, the United Kingdom, France, Italy, Island, Denmark, Holland, Switzerland, Belgium, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain Kuwait, Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea and Lebanon.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 3rd, 2013.