No US visa for Pakistani mangoes

Published: March 16, 2014
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The disappointment of Pakistani exporters is understandable as the US remains the most important destination for mango exporters with an annual demand of 200,000 tons. PHOTO: FILE

The disappointment of Pakistani exporters is understandable as the US remains the most important destination for mango exporters with an annual demand of 200,000 tons. PHOTO: FILE

KARACHI: 

With the season around the corner, expats living in the US might, once again, wonder whether they will be able to buy Pakistani mangoes from their local grocery stores this year. Unfortunately, the short answer would be no.

Despite some advancement in processing technology, Pakistan has yet to reach the standards set by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to tap the world’s largest market.

In a recent interview with a major mango exporter, Babar Khan Durrani, CEO at Pakistan Horti Fresh Processing (Pvt.) Ltd, it was learnt that technological advancements, which opened up new markets for Pakistani mangoes, were helpful but still fail to meet USDA standards.

Previously, the country had been exporting mangoes to Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, China, Iran, Jordan and the UK. After acquiring the hot water treatment (HWT) technology in 2012, the country was able to enter new markets in Lebanon, South Korea, Australia and Mauritius, while

New Zealand and South Africa are likely to be added to the list this season.

Durrani said they have recently imported an automatic plant from the Netherlands. The plant not only processes but does the packaging and sizing of the mangoes as well and has an ultra violet ray function to separate the damaged or infected mangoes from those deemed fit for human consumption.

Mangoes can cause nine types of diseases – fruit flies, their eggs and larva being the most dangerous. The HWT technology kills them all, Durrani claims, which is why Australia that has one of the world’s toughest regulation standards opened up its market for Pakistani mangoes.

Besides HWT, growers have taken steps to protect their mangoes at the farm level. For example, they import special bags from Australia and Korea and wrap them around the fruit just when it blossoms – this protects the mangoes from fruit flies, Durrani says.

While the current technology has helped our mangoes reach more markets, including some developed ones, the exporters are barred from exporting Pakistani mangoes to the US via sea.

The disappointment of Pakistani exporters is understandable because the US remains the most important destination for mango exporters all over the world with an annual demand of 200,000 tons a year – 60,000 tons higher than Pakistan’s total exports, which were recorded at 140,000 tons in fiscal 2013.

Durrani argues that Pakistan has the same processing technology as Mexico does but the latter can export their mangoes via sea. He says better diplomacy from both sides can resolve this issue.

While Durrani believes it is a diplomatic matter, Washington disagrees.

HWT and Vapor Heat Treatment are used in some countries but fruit flies in those countries are different from those in Pakistan, Spokesperson for US Consulate General Karachi Andrew L. Armstrong told The Express Tribune.

Mexico and the US are in the same geographical region – the former’s pests, therefore, don’t pose a threat to the American crops but Pakistan’s do. It is for this reason that the US has not approved of the same treatment for Pakistani mangoes.

“Fruit flies and other pests present in Pakistan, but not in the US, must be killed in order to prevent them from harming fruit and vegetable crops in the US,” Armstrong said.

To address this problem, Islamabad and Washington agreed that irradiation was the best treatment, according to Armstrong. In 2010, both countries agreed that the best option was to utilise irradiation facilities in the US. To facilitate this, the USDA created a first of its kind system to allow safe import and irradiation of Pakistani mangoes in the US. Currently, one private facility in Iowa is available for irradiation of mangoes from Pakistan.

But this option is economically not viable for Pakistani exporters. Treating Pakistan’s mangoes in the US is not only costlier but also riskier, according to Waheed Ahmed – another major player in the mango export business.

A pre-clearance might have been the other option. However, the spokesman said the USDA has determined that a preclearance program is not possible at this time because it requires a USDA inspector to be present in Pakistan for the entire season and carry out various inspections – this would only raise the costs for exporters. Under the current scenario, there is perhaps only one option.

“We need at least two irradiation plants — one each in Karachi and Multan,” Waheed said. Since one plant costs around $2 million, he said, they asked for the government’s support but the latter did not bother.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 17th, 2014.

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Reader Comments (58)

  • Be Careful
    Mar 16, 2014 - 9:01PM

    Don’t over-export or the fruit would become too expensive for the locals.

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  • Amir
    Mar 16, 2014 - 9:06PM

    Good…no mangoos for US only us.

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  • Strategic Asset
    Mar 16, 2014 - 9:13PM

    While Durrani believes it is a diplomatic matter, Washington disagrees.`

    This is the problem with Pakistan. Don’t follow any rules and hope for a “wink-wink” solution.

    US concern about pests in South Asian mangoes is nothing new. India faced the same problem and set up a state-of-the art facility back in 2009. If relations with India were better, Pakistan could have trans-shipped the mangoes to the US via India.

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  • unbelievable
    Mar 16, 2014 - 9:31PM

    He says better diplomacy from both sides can resolve this issue.
    .
    Rubbish – this isn’t a diplomatic issue. Fruit fly infestation is a big deal and States like California actually stop and inspect vehicles crossing their borders and won’t allow fruits and certain vegetables across the state line. As I recall the USA funded a program a couple years ago to help Pakistani farmers understand the steps necessary to export mangoes to the USA – irradiation and other requirements were clearly outlined. Pakistani farmers want either the USA or Pakistani govt to foot the bill for irradiation – but that doesn’t make much sense since the farmers are the ones who reap the benefits of higher sales. In other countries which face similar issues the farmers create cooperatives to purchase expensive equipment.

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  • DM
    Mar 16, 2014 - 10:02PM

    They’re missing out. For real.

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  • Ch. Allah Daad
    Mar 16, 2014 - 10:57PM

    I would prefer to keep Pakistani mangoes in Pakistan for our own consumption. Exports have already made them too expensive for common people. Making nutritionist things out of reach of common people and then showing malnutrition effects to gain sympathy of the world does not make any sense.

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  • Kashif
    Mar 16, 2014 - 11:19PM

    Uncle Sam is a great friend! He won’t let you buy gas from Iran nor nuclear technology from China. If you try to build a consensus on Thar Coal project or Kala Bagh damn, Uncle’s rats in media will make sure to create fuss at such a huge level that your dreams remain dreams. Uncle Sam is always the first to nominate you as responsible for any kind of unusual incident that happens to be anywhere on this planet. Such as you hijacked Malaysian Airliner this month !! Too bad Pakistanis too bad !! O yes, Uncle will give you aid money but will also make sure that you lose at least 10 times more than that in the form of collateral damage, opportunity costs or implicit dependency on them to buy Oil. What a pitiful circle of life for Pakistan!.

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  • Waseem
    Mar 16, 2014 - 11:21PM

    Lets people of Pakistan enjoy this fruit with cheap prices. Not really a bad news…

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  • ahnum
    Mar 16, 2014 - 11:23PM

    well thats obviously because indian mangoes are tastier thaan pakstani.

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  • optimist
    Mar 16, 2014 - 11:24PM

    Why US is so hard to please? You visit anywhere in Europe or Australia and you don’t get upset stomach (after living in the west for some time).
    .
    US is the only developed country where you can get upset stomach after eating out. You see roadside stalls selling food with obviously bad conditions (they are very popular). I think these are just indirect trade sanctions…. nothing to do with food safety!

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  • Mirza
    Mar 16, 2014 - 11:43PM

    There are lots of top class mangoes available in the US. Pakistan is not the only game in town especially if there are health issues and its produce are questionable.
    http://listdose.com/top-10-mango-varieties-types/

    Pakistan is fourth largest producer of mangoes at less than 2 million or close to Mexico vs India with more than 15 million. There are several top-class mangoes that we never heard about in Pakistan. The International buyer has a wide choices and they don’t take chances. We have to compete and it would require modernity and hard work not self-praise or emotions. Let us hope we can be more competitive and earn the business.
    http://www.mapsofworld.com/world-top-ten/mango-producing-countries.html

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  • Observer
    Mar 17, 2014 - 12:12AM

    India has USDA approved mango irradiation facilities and has excess capacity. Pakistan could avail the use of these Indian facilities at a much cheaper costs than the US irradiation facilities. Then again, logic and economic sense never registers with the Pakistani establishment.

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  • optimist
    Mar 17, 2014 - 12:16AM

    @ Be Careful
    Or make Mango juice and sell it expensive as value added… no flies in juice argument!

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  • raise
    Mar 17, 2014 - 12:38AM

    Maybe an exporter can float a debenture or sukkuk to finance the construction of the plant? Perhaps the returns from a treatment plant are too low for such a course of action.

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  • Mar 17, 2014 - 12:44AM

    first it was a brain drain, now, mango drain?

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  • Rex Minor
    Mar 17, 2014 - 12:48AM

    There is a huge market for Pakistan mangoes in the European countries!

    Rex Minor

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  • N.Sid
    Mar 17, 2014 - 1:05AM

    Even then Man goes to Washington on an extended Visa. Wit apart mangoes are King of fruits and Fruit for Kings…Yankees don’t know the edible value of it.

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  • yasir
    Mar 17, 2014 - 1:31AM

    Hypocrisy from us. Has anyone heard of American sundi. How it arrived here?. Off course through imported us seeds. Latin Americans have a strong lobby in us , they won’t allow any tax exemptions/favors like Europe did recently on textile goods.

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  • Umer Farooq
    Mar 17, 2014 - 1:33AM

    200,000 tons a year – 70% higher than Pakistan’s total exports, which were recorded at 140,000 tons in fiscal 2013.
    The math doesnt add up. Hows 60,000 70% more lol

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  • Waseem
    Mar 17, 2014 - 1:51AM

    Trust me, no match of Pakistan mango in the world. always, best.

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  • optimist
    Mar 17, 2014 - 2:09AM

    Now I know where I heard the term ‘Amreekan Sundi’. Uncle sam is sending us their bugs through its wheat or other produce but doesn’t want our bugs!

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  • Bakhtiyar Ghazi Khan
    Mar 17, 2014 - 3:08AM

    @Kashif: You gave me a good laugh. Your words have a lot of truth in them. We should only deal with countries who want to deal with us. No Pakistani mangoes for ingrates.

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  • Sm
    Mar 17, 2014 - 3:16AM

    Let’s put it this way- the Americans lose out on the best mangoes in the world. Their loss.

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  • Mar 17, 2014 - 3:35AM

    @unbelievable:

    What fruit fly are you talking about? Have you checked mexican mango that comes to USA from the borders? All surrounded with Fruit fly.. i have seen it myself.
    Yes USDA funded stupid Hot water washing plants too fool farmers which was of no use. A plant that has 5 minutes mango treatment capacity.
    Mango needs atleast 60minutes treatment at 48 degree celcius to get rid of mainly Fruit Fly.
    Irradiation is an expensive solution and need high investment. Its only USA that asks for Irradiation, and we do not suggest to do such high investment for one market that is USA..

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  • Mar 17, 2014 - 3:37AM

    @Be Careful:

    Pakistan exports less than 150,000 tons and it has a production of more than 1.5 Million tons. So the export is not even 10%

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  • Mar 17, 2014 - 3:42AM

    @Observer:

    Your proposal doesn’t make any business sense.
    To use Indian Irrdiation Plant we have to export Mangoes to India. Since India itself is exporter and producer of Mango there is import duty for any imported Mango. We have to pay high duty to export mango to India. Apart from that, there is transportation cost involved to carry mangoes to India.
    Thirdly, certificate of origin will be made of India, since goods will be exported from India, so it will never be called as the export of Pakistan.
    So business wise your proposal doesn’t works.

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  • IndianTroll
    Mar 17, 2014 - 6:17AM

    @ahnum:
    Actually, this is not something one should feel nationalistic about. Pakistani mangoes are tastier than Indian mangoes – at least insofar as the varieties that I have tasted. It is a shame really. As one blogger pointed out, India would have been a ready market for Pakistani produce if only Pakistan followed the China-India equation.

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  • Unknown
    Mar 17, 2014 - 7:24AM

    Ooh, I am missing multani mangoes (langra, chonsa, anwar atol) in USA. Mexican mangoes are no where near our mangoes, even Sindhri are better than mexican ones.

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  • JD
    Mar 17, 2014 - 7:38AM

    So do we get to eat export-quality mangoes this summer? :)

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  • babu
    Mar 17, 2014 - 8:00AM

    Why don’t Pakistan just send its mangoes to India, after all we got better resources and infrastructure to make SA’s proud fruit of export level, so that we can together create a monopolistic market for EU/US. But again, how can Pakistanis join in hand together with India? That would be so destructive for the very motto of the two nation theory…:p

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  • Fruit fly
    Mar 17, 2014 - 8:16AM

    Why are you not allowing comments on the news item about Muslims rioting and destroying properties and livelihood of tiny Hindu minorities in Sindh and Balochistan? Very strange.
    Day in and day out there are articles in this paper claiming “discrimination” against Muslims in India.

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  • ZakirShah
    Mar 17, 2014 - 9:07AM

    Plant Quarantine Certain plants and plant product cannot ? be export Why prohibited or restricted by law In order to prevent large variety of foreign pest and diseases .that carry the potential to cause severe damage to globally Agriculture & Forestry Most fruits and vegetables from countries and regions in which Mediterranean fruit flies and / or Oriental fruit flies are found cannot be brought into any part of our world .Facts are Fruit fly larva feed inside the fruit that play host to such larvae may be severely damaged under the skin while appearing normal on the outside .People who want to export must take advice please inquire with your country or plant protection stations or visit their website .From my R & D on Pakistan plant Quarantine I found that they dont invest on Plant Quarantine & Lab they think by buying a machine or machinery they can export the truth is their High Brass are with out a job walking on the streets with their know how no one cares for them most of them are Master Dr Phd even in Japan we dont have so many Phd in Agriculture with nothing to do not even a Lab or a room for them to work on such matters all the want fast high speed $ Import Inspection is must for export .. .

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  • Truther
    Mar 17, 2014 - 9:10AM

    Great News. Now there would be some mangoes left for us at home to eat because they export most of the good quality mango to other countries instead of serving the people at home first

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  • Israr
    Mar 17, 2014 - 10:14AM

    I think there may be a different regulations to import different kind of fruits into to the US. It is understandable to have strict rules for any fruit that can be and usually eaten or consumed without peeling e.g Grapes, Apples, Strawberries etc. etc. But for Oranges, Bananas and Mangoes no one eats without peeling therefore different rules may be applicable. There is a need to explore further on those lines. How come the same mangos or any other fruit that gets into the tin packs, can enter the US from all over the world. Food for thought !

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  • Another Pakistani
    Mar 17, 2014 - 11:18AM

    lol @ the idea of Pakistani mangoes being processed at Indian irradiation facilities. Do you think India and Indian exporters are that naive to allow Pakistani exporters to capture their share in the US market by using the irradition facilities in India?

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  • Aschraful Makhlooq
    Mar 17, 2014 - 11:58AM

    US only wants to see Pakistan a beggar and US’ aid dependent country this is why US opposes every step Pakistan takes for being an economically strong and prosperous country….

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  • Ali S
    Mar 17, 2014 - 1:02PM

    @Be Careful:

    Exactly. I don’t know about now, but four years back when I was in Canada, Pakistani chaunsa was available at select stores. You know how much it cost? $8 for a box of six mangoes, that’s well over a dollar each or Rs 130 per mango! It’s several times more expensive than the Mexican Alfonso mangoes that are most commonly available in North American markets.

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  • Syed Hasan Atizaz
    Mar 17, 2014 - 3:07PM

    adopting such modern ways will not only effect the taste of these mangoes but the additional cost the farmer undergo will going to be troublesome., It will be in favor of Pakistan to stick with conventional method, which will ensure taste and quality both.

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  • Islooboy
    Mar 17, 2014 - 3:46PM

    Arabs don’t know to produce any mangoes and U.S. is aware of the same fact. now, for economics, since they have started, would they be trusting of the original quality or the fake one?

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  • Hasan Mehmood
    Mar 17, 2014 - 5:09PM

    @IndianTroll:
    You are right in your observation.
    I am based in GULF and believe me the Indian varieties except Alphonso are inferior to the top three or four Pakistani varieties. There is no Indian equivalent to Chaunsa which you need to eat to believe the taste and texture. However in marketing, display, freshness and import logistics, Indian produce is way ahead.

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  • Singh
    Mar 17, 2014 - 5:15PM

    @optimist:
    I think you visit US through google. LOL

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  • unbelievable
    Mar 17, 2014 - 6:40PM

    For those who think the USA is picking on Pakistan – read this article which outlines the same irradiation requirements for India. http://www.apeda.gov.in/apedawebsite/announcements/guidelinesmangoesto_usa.pdf

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  • unbelievable
    Mar 17, 2014 - 7:24PM

    @Syed Hasan Atizaz:

    adopting such modern ways will not
    only effect the taste of these mangoes

    Rubbish. Irradiated fruit doesn’t taste different but does extend shelf life.
    .
    http://ccr.ucdavis.edu/irr/what4.shtml

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  • Strategic Asset
    Mar 17, 2014 - 8:19PM

    @Another Pakistani: lol @ the idea of Pakistani mangoes being processed at Indian irradiation facilities. Do you think India and Indian exporters are that naive to allow Pakistani exporters to capture their share in the US market by using the irradition facilities in India?

    Firstly, I am unaware of any quotas for mangoes in the US. So it is not as if Pakistani mangoes will be eating into India’s market share.

    Secondly, India’s mango varietals are not the same as those of Pakistan. They may also compete at vastly different price points. In fact, the Alphonso mango from India is the most expensive mango in the world. Even the Badami mango costs a lot.

    Finally, business is business the world over. I am sure for a fee, anyone with such a facility will do it. But I doubt in the current climate this will happen.Recommend

  • Musa
    Mar 17, 2014 - 11:07PM

    @everyone
    There is already an irradiation plant operating in Lahore run by the govt under PAEC it is located on Multan road I think 14 kms off Thokar Niaz Beg. Anyways the problem is the protocol set by the US. According to the US standards set for Pakistani mango the cargo has to land at O’Hare in Chicago, be loaded onto trucks while also having a 5 million dollar Insurance cover in case of fruit fly damage across the highway oh and the highway is also designated from O’Hare to the plant, and then driven 500 miles to Sioux City Iowa be irradiated and be ready for distribution. With major Pakistani diaspora located along the east coast, chicago areas and texas, this proves extremely costly as the fruit will then have to be brought back to chicago. There are plently of irradiation plants in and around chicago where all this can be done at a much cheaper cost and also not having transportation costs of a 1000 mile journey minimum to the designated plant and back, so therefor in conclusions the conditions set by the US for the import of Pakistani mango means you basically cannot import to sell since it makes it economically not possible. Whereas India and Thailand can have their mangoes irradiated in the host country before sending them to an airport of their choice thus reducing costs significantly, since pakistan and india have the same kind of pests would it not be prudent to have the same conditions for import?
    The only thing standing in the way of this is for USDA To visit the plant in lahore and approve it something that they have not been able to do since Mush’s time despite various commitments.

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  • Mango World
    Mar 18, 2014 - 12:08AM

    @Hasan Mehmood:
    We get Chaunsa in India aswell as well as Lungra, Dasheri, Malika, Bombay Green, Alphonsa and many other varieties in India. Im pretty sure the Pakistani varieties are pretty awsome aswell. I would have to agree though that you cant compare mangoes that are normally imported into Europe and the US to the ones back home. The variety as well as sweetness just cant be compared to mangoes that are direct from the orchard or bought during season which ripe naturally..

    Im speaking from experience of living in Europe and the US as well as my grandfather having a mango orchard in India. Eitherway I miss the Mangoes from home cause the ones in the Indian and Pakistani stores just dont cut it and I eat them more out of lack of better options.

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  • Babloo
    Mar 18, 2014 - 1:00AM

    Pakistani fruit flies are different and dangerous and not comparable to fruit flies from India or Mexico. The fruit flies tend to attack the consumer and can often blow themselves up thus causing significant injury to the consumer.

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  • Usman S.
    Mar 18, 2014 - 3:04AM

    Folks..these treatment plants costs a mere two million bucks. I am surprised these exporters don’t have access to that kind of money (or financing) in order to get access to the world’s largest market.

    Some Pakistani varieties, especially, the Chaunsa have unparalleled taste and aroma in the world. The potential is immense but I wonder why it is so hard for the the exporters to acquire the appropriate technology through financing. Two million dollars should not be that big a deal.

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  • Uza Syed
    Mar 18, 2014 - 2:11PM

    @Nadir Khan Durrani and his kind of business people are interesting folks, anytime there is any investment to be made to improve their quality and thus increase profitability these guys back of and start making noises such as this, “…asked for the government’s support but the latter did not bother…..”! Why must government support them? They are no orphans or helpless widows, why should government pour our money to help them, they are not expected to distribute their profits among the people here in Pakistan. They are in business and wish to be identified as entrepreneurs then get on with it, they must manage their investments, costs, profits and losses themselves or let someone else do this business. In business world either you learn efficiency or you perish. Period. Recommend

  • Concerned
    Mar 18, 2014 - 10:26PM

    I thought Hina Rabbani Khar did get a visa…

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  • David Salmon
    Mar 19, 2014 - 1:48AM

    @Nadir Khan Durrani:
    I leave to you the economics of it, but if Pakistan and India were to agree upon free trade (as contemplated by the SAARC agreements and the falsely-labeled Tariff Equality/Most-Favored-Nation) WTO agreements), then Pakistani mangoes would not incur a tariff when entering India. Nor, do I think, that US Dept of Agriculture would consider the mango an Indian product. India would obtain some value-added advantage, but that could be readily avoided by building an irradiation plant in Multan. Nor is $2M very much for a plant in this day and age. Add a $1 to the first 2M mangoes. I say this as one once resident in Multan, knowledgeable of the delicious Pakistani mango, and hopeful of someday eating another.

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  • David Salmon
    Mar 19, 2014 - 1:55AM

    @Nadir Khan Durrani:
    I will add that I also have experience of the Mediterranean fruit fly’s first appearance in California, and the consternation it caused to California agriculture. The fruit fly present in Pakistan and India, I gather, is not one we presently have. Hence, all necessary precautions to prevent it being carried to this country in crates of mangoes are appropriate. I would hope that this does not entirely rice Pakistani mangoes out of the US market. Perhaps they could be sold as premium items, like Japanese Fuji apples, each in its own paper basket . . .

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  • truth teller
    May 4, 2014 - 9:19PM

    Well well for me we should not be much concerned about exporting mangoes to US or any other country as we need to correct other bigger problems.The money we get from export and foreign countries is more than very much only our fellow citizens in foreign countries send 9 billion $ if we need to correct some thing we should correct our souls GUYS WE ARE A NUCLEAR POWER we are no different than US in military as the most powerful weapon of US is also NUCLEAR the day would come when we would be a strong economic country fellows why we are having so negative points about Pakistan we are no difference than others we just need to realize it….Recommend

  • Jun 2, 2014 - 3:13PM

    Then do not ship to USA. They are trying to bully Pakistan. The traders who make money are kneeling abd begging because they make the money. Pay no attention, one, twice, three times and the school yard soon realises his tactics do not work. There is a lesson here from Cuba and their cigars. Been banned in USA for decades and guess who the biggest consumers are? The Americans. It costs them more to get the cigares via the longer route

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  • Jun 6, 2014 - 12:04AM

    Next week Mangoes will export to USA after 2011
    First shipments quantity will be 3000 kilo & than follow up every Week with Volume of 8000 kilo
    First Mangoes will make access to Texas & than after 2 weeks will be New York
    Inshallah this Year Ramazan Fasting will be done by Pakistani Chaunsa

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  • Jul 17, 2014 - 5:06PM

    Excellent post and even better recommendations. As a business owner growing a community, I can say that the best way to build page rank and traffic is engagement of the users. And this is created one post at a time. Creating a great blog is more of a marathon and less of a sprint.

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  • Jul 17, 2014 - 5:07PM

    Great post keep up the good work.Thanks for sharing.

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  • Jul 17, 2014 - 5:11PM

    I love Pakistani Mangoes.Let’s put it this way- the Americans lose out on the best mangoes in the world. Their loss!

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