There are 11 agro-climate zones where Pakistan can cultivate different varieties of fruits, vegetables and flowers to earn foreign exchange, this was stated by Shaikh Sultan Rehman, Vice President of the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI), in an interactive seminar on “Horticulture Sector in Pakistan: Potentials & Impediments” held at Federation House Karachi, Regional Office Lahore and Capital Office Islamabad via zoom video link.
The Seminar was attended by Dr. Muhammad Arshad Vice President, Executive Committee and General Body Members, Liaquat Ali Shaikh, Qaisra Shaikh, FPCCI Coordinator Women Entrepreneurs, Saadat Ejaz Qureshi, Former Chairman Pakistan Horticulture Development and Export Board, Mr. Sarfaraz Iqbal Representative of Pakistan Horticulture Development and Export Board, Fahim Siddiqui, Chairman Horticulture Society of Pakistan, Dr. Hafeez ur Rehman, Director National Coordinator (Horticulture), Muhammad Amin, Agriculture University Faisalabad, Dr. Ishfaq Ahmed Hafiz, Chairman Department of Horticulture, PMAS Arid Agriculture University and Representatives of All Pakistan Fruit & Vegetable Exporters, Importers & Merchants Association.
While welcoming the participants, Shaikh Sultan Rehman, Vice President FPCCI emphasized on the value addition of horticulture sector wherein there is huge scope of exports. He added that citrus, mango, potato, peach, and cherries from Pakistan are those horticulture products which are highly recognized in international market. Unfortunately this sector was ignored in Pakistan as a result the production of key fruits and vegetables indicate a declining trend. He stated that Pakistan is still using old and traditional methods for harvesting which result in low yield per hectare compared to other countries. He further added that Pakistan has potentials to increase exports as well as domestic consumption by investing in research and technology. He also quoted the facts and figure of Asian Development Bank Studies which reflect that per capital consumption of vegetables and fruits is very low compared to USA and European Countries which also affect our human capital and productivity. He also highlighted issues related to post harvest losses and lack of cold storage & warehouses.
Mr. Saadat Ejaz Qureshi, Former Chairman Horticulture Development Board and Exports stated that there is no coordination amongst the different departments of agriculture sector as agriculture production is looked after by provincial governments while exports are under federal government. He stated that Pakistan is losing markets of Europe and Middle East for orange and mango exports due to fruit flies and absence of treatment plants. Pakistan is currently exporting 5 to 7 percent of its horticulture production as our yield is very low compared to other countries. He underscored the need of freight subsidy as our export price are very high and can’t compete internationally. He also appreciated the government for increasing custom duty on import of fruits to discourage its import and protecting domestic production. He advised to improve the farms conditions by giving its management to the professional people.
Mr. Sarfaraz Iqbal, Pakistan Horticulture Development and Export Board emphasized on the need to give special treatment to fruits at each stage of production and exports as there is lack of consistency in production. He also suggested the usage of hybrid seed and inventions/innovations of new varieties of fruits and vegetables. He also urged for the adoption of sanitary and phyto sanitary standards for international markets and improving of quality of packaging. He added that there is a scope of export of vegetables in Pakistan China FTA which need to be utilized. He also underlined the need of improving conditions of farmers by offering incentives in order to encourage them to increase production.
Dr. Ishfaq Ahmed, Chairman Horticulture Department, PMAS Arid Agriculture University informed different areas of Pakistan where there are opportunities available for production of fruits like olives, grapes etc. He highlighted different issues which create hindrance in exports of horticulture like SPS compliance, lack of value addition, lack of adoption of good agriculture practices, weak supply chain, high cost of production, non-compliance on quality competition as per international market, lack of diversification in crop production and post-harvest losses & quality assurance.
Dr. Hafeezur Rehman, Director National Coordinator (Horticulture), PARC stated the potentials available in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa where off-season crops can also be harvested. He urged reduction in post-harvest losses, identification of new markets, technological advancement and supply consistency.
Mr. Fahim Siddiqui, Chairman Horticulture Society of Pakistan emphasized on the promotion of floriculture in Pakistan where there is huge potential asPakistan spends millions of dollars in importing flowers.
Muhammad Amin, Horticulturist, Agriculture University Faisalabad focused on value addition, better preservation of fruits, branding, packaging of fruits and vegetable in order to increase Pakistan’s share in international market. He urged the Government to set the uniform price of Pakistan fruit exports for all countries. Moreover, he suggested the government to devise a strategy for exporting dates to Saudi Arabia and other countries.
In his concluding remarks, Sheikh Sultan Rehman, Vice President FPCCI emphasized the need to form long-term, consistent policies with consultation with all stakeholders, establish warehouses and cold storages to save fruits and vegetables from being rotten, utilize modern irrigation technologies to increase the production and improving quality. He offered vote of thanks to the participants.