Setting up irradiation plant in Karachi to increase mango export vital

KARACHI: United States is the biggest importer of mangoes in the world and we are missing US market only because of lack of irradiation facilities. 
By establishing the irradiation plant in Karachi, a large quantity of fruit could be exported to US, said Waheed Ahmed co-Chairman of All Pakistan Fruit and Vegetable Exporters, Importers and Merchant Association (PFVA).
We want irradiation plant should be established in Karachi. It would reduce the cost of mangoes. Pakistani mangoes in United States are available at around $24 per two-kilogrammes, said Waheed. 
PFVA office bearer was of the view the consumption area was mostly Pakistani or Asian communities in USA who were well aware about the Pakistan’s mango flavour. Buyers are there. Only we have to improve our infrastructure, said Waheed. 
Uptill now, I guess Pakistan’s mango season export is around 35 percent less against previous year. However Ramzan could balance the gap. But again government of Pakistan should come forward and play its role in providing better facilities for infrastructure to enhance our mango exports, said the exporter.
According to estimates this year around 120-140 tonnes of Pakistani mangoes would be exported to US. Out of it Sindhri would have the lion’s share in total exports.
Sindhri’s acceptability is much higher than other varieties because of its taste and it is also popular in Dubai, Middle East and European Union, Dr Atta Hussain Soomro Director General (DG) Agriculture Research Sindh Tandojam said.
Ironically for a huge mango producing country, Pakistan has only one irradiation plant in Lahore with its annual processing capacity of around 60,000 tonnes, but the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has not approved it. Pakistan produces around 1.7 million tonnes of mangoes annually with Sindh being second highest producer after Punjab. Sindh produces around 0.4 million tonnes mangoes. ‘Twenty years back or so Sindh was highest mango producer province in the country, said Dr Soomro. The absence of irradiation plant in Sindh is the loss of local mangoes. For example Sindh’s mango is traded in curb market in Dubai. This is huge loss to our mango, he said.
Talking to Daily Times, Sindh Minister for Agriculture Ali Nawaz Khan Mehar said consignment of local mangoes to United States has already been started. Efforts are being made to enhance the mango exports. “On June 12 first consignment left for US while the second delivery would leave next week,” said the minister.
Last year local mangoes were exported on first time on test consignment and United States provided radiation facility only at Chicago. However Houston is also providing the required facility this year.
Market acceptability is the main factor in exporting the mangoes subjected to the conditions. ‘Treatment criteria is different as per requirement of the country. Every country requires specific procedure. Pakistani mangoes are passed through a radiation test according to US requirements, said Dr Soomro. 
Houston and Dallas would be the main destination as most of the Pakistanis from Sindh live there, he said. 
In Sindh, there are around ten farms, which have different processing facilities such as forced air-cooling, Hard Water Treatment facility and others. United States Agency for International Development (USAID) funded farms are in Kotri, Tando Allahyar, Sakrand, Tando Ghulam Ali and Mirpurkhas.
On the other hand USDA has been urged to allow irradiation of Pakistani mango locally in order to start viable export.
It is said United States is the world's largest importer of mango with 43.2 percent share in global imports.
“I think Pakistani officials in US were not feeling the seriousness of this matter as the trade of the largest importer of mangoes with an annual demand of around 200,000 tonnes a year,” said Director Harvest Tradings Ahmad Jawad.
Treating Pakistan’s mangoes in the US is not only costlier but also riskier. This option is economically not viable for Pakistani exporters. Pakistan has exported 2.5 tonnes of mangoes to United States so far. ‘It’s effort, not achievement. Around 0.7 million Pakistani communities live in cities likes Houston, Chicago, New York, New Jersey, Florida, Washington and other areas. We have great potential to grab the market, said Jawad.

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