Improved Horticulture for a more productive economy.
Round Table Meeting of UNIDO experts on TRTA-II attended by donors, growers of Kinnow & Mangoes together with senior officials of MinFA, TDAP, PAMCO, PSQCA and NPO held at Pakistan Horticulture Development and Export Company (PHDEC), Lahore emphasized the need of developing comprehensive Codes of Practices (COP) and manuals for the horticulture sector in addition to PAKGAP PC-1 Proposal Participants of the round table meeting mutually endorsed to address the issues related to improper picking, poor handling practices, transportation (farm to the processing unit) and cool storage of mango and citrus have been identified as major constraints, which prevent the exports. Kinnow and mangoes produced in Pakistan undergoes cumbersome criteria or distribution channel before reaching the end user, which is why quality of the fruit suffers. Development of comprehensive Code of Practices is essential to meet global benchmark quality food.
Exporters try their level best to maintain quality by hiring skilled manpower and making occasional improvements in picking, washing, waxing and grading practices, but due to lack of knowledge, guidance and directional research, they fail to conform to international safety standards. Upgrading tools and techniques and hiring skilled manpower is need of the time, for which tangible steps should be taken at micro and macro level if we are really sincere to enhance our trade and get access to international market.
Quality and safety standards are issues of exporter, but should also be applied to domestic sales, as there have been several reports of health problems including food poisoning in developing countries.
Strengthening horticulture sector of Pakistan is one of the components of UNIDO-TRTA-II and KINOW and MANGO are just two sectors. Developing practicable Codes of Practices/ Manuals for the horticulture sector and feasibility study by UNIDO on PAKGAP PC-1 Proposal can earn better foreign exchange, and for this UNIDO/TRTA-II project is mustering support of the Government of Pakistan and local stakeholders of kinnow and mango processing industry by organizing workshops/ seminars.
Dr. Mike Dillon – UNIDO/TRTA II International Expert, briefed the participants and provided an overview of key areas of TRTA-II project including benchmarking, development of codes of practice, pilot application dissemination, value addition, curriculum development and the PAKGAP support. He presented preliminary observations on PAKGAP PC-I proposal and made clear that aim of this program is to increase quality, volume and value of trade in the targeted sectors.
Though, Pakistan is not completely complying with Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) standards, which is a great impediment to international standard products and access to international market. Limited SPS management capacity, food safety, animal health and plant health are contributing factors, therefore an effective SPS Inspection System is inevitable for Pakistan and UNIDO TRTA-II project is working out all possibilities to make it practicable.
Our soil is blessed to produce excellent quality of mangoes and citrus, but an average 35% to 40% export quality kinnow and mango are lost every year that is why exports are much less than other countries and targets are not achieved; improper picking, poor handling practices, transportation, and meager cool storage are contributing factors stopping access to international market; export quality fruits can earn us substantial amount of foreign exchange just by making a few improvements in supply and value chain of these products.