With a 20% drop in production and, according to mango exporters, mismanagement by the Department of Plant Protection (DPP), Pakistan is on track to miss its annual mango export target of 125,000 tonnes.
“The DPP’s poor strategy has put the mango export target in jeopardy,” wrote Muhammad Shehzad Shaikh, Chairman of The All Pakistan Fruit & Vegetable Exporters, Importers, and Merchants Association (PFVA), in a letter to the Ministry of National Food Security & Research on Thursday.
On June 12th, DPP released a new SOP announcing the requirement of hot water treatment (HWT) from licenced plants exclusively.
According to PFVA, DPP favours its blue-eyed plants, and this discriminating policy has resulted in the closure of 90 percent of 35 plants that were not awarded NOCs by the Department of Plant Protection, resulting in $44 million in damages. It has resulted in the layoff of 2500 workers, with an additional 6,000 people affected.
“Hot water treatment (HWT) is done to free mangoes from fruit fly eggs, which is a stringent requirement when exporting mangoes to Iran and the European Union,” Ibrahim Akbar Bokhari, Managing Director of Awwal Frams and co-founder of Farmdar, explained.
He stated that the Department of Plant Protection only knows how to say no instead of assisting producers, and that the government should create a favourable atmosphere for compliance by digitising and simplifying the process of registering hot water plants.
He further stated that these bottlenecks incentivize exporters to ship untreated mangoes beneath the radar, endangering our long-term export agreements with a country-wide ban if even a few persistent fruit-fly-containing cargoes make their way across the border into Iran.
With 45000 tonnes of mangoes exported to Iran, it should be clear how critical it is to correct the existing situation. The UAE ranks second with 35000 tonnes, and Oman is third with 15000 tonnes, according to Bokhari.
The DPP is refusing NOCs based on minor complaints that are outside the scope of fundamental operation, and non-approved plants have never received a complaint from their buyers in Europe, Iran, Australia, China, Kenya, or Iraq in the years preceding today, according to PFVA.
PVFA informed the minister that the existing plants are operating at capacity, threatening the efficacy of treatment. It further noted that these policies benefit only a few people and that strict action should be taken against individuals who harm national trade.
PFVA chairman Muhammad Shehzad Sheikh stated that India will gain a competitive advantage as a result of this, despite the fact that exporters have confirmed future orders as well.
The longer winter this year has also contributed to the loss of 20% of the country’s mango crop, with Chaunsa being the primary sufferer of this climate change oddity. Although the sizes of all types have been affected across the board.
Patron of the PFVAChief Waheed Ahmad forecast a 20% drop in mango production to 1.44 million tonnes this year, down from 1.8 million tonnes last year. Last year, it was the heat waves, and this year, it is the cooler temps.
It is no secret that practically all of our regulatory bodies’ actions essentially establish incentives for noncompliance with regulations from the start.
Rather than constructing its own hot water treatment plants and encouraging growers to export more, our regulatory agencies are shutting down the plants without a backup plan or speeding up the registration procedure.
There is a pressing need to distinguish between bureaucratic shenanigans and industry necessities. It is critical to emphasise that regulators are intended to ease rather than worsen issues for a sector that is already dealing with the looming threat of climate change, which poses a serious risk to its fundamental stability.