Now Reading: Pakistan Set to Break Records for Kinnow Exports Amid COVID-19
In a surprising turn of events, the COVID-19 pandemic has increased the demand for Pakistani Kinnow in international markets thus increasing the exports.
Known as the Mandarin Hybrid fruit that delivers a flavor akin to none, markets such as Russia, Iran, and other Central Asian countries look forward to buying the fruit every year. Only last year, Pakistan earned its highest export revenue of $222 million from exports amounting to 370,000 tonnes of Kinnow.
On average, Pakistan exports 3 to 4 lac tonnes of Kinnow every year. Central Asian countries such as Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan are some of the main export destinations for the fruit, with Russia being the biggest buyer in the export market. Pakistan is the sixth largest producer of citrus fruit. Kinnow is the most exported fruit of Pakistan.
As per reports, Pakistan’s total trade volume for Kinnow sits at Rs. 125 billion. Among major harvesting units, Faisalabad and Sargodha account for the majority of Kinnow yield, amassing 80% of total production in Pakistan last year.
250,000 individuals are employed during the Kinnow season at 350 production facilities across the country.
Although the demand continues to increase every season, exporters and local distribution hubs this year are also facing problems with the international supply chain.
Problems Faced by Exporters:
There is stark unavailability of containers along the trade belt, mostly along the Gwadar and Karachi seaports, due to problems such as the closure of land and sea routes, restrictions on air travel, and cash-strapped businesses looking to buy Kinnow on installments. Apart from the structural flaws in our horticulture sector the ongoing weaker rupee and high-inflation are also playing havoc. The cost of growing fruits and vegetables has been on the rise after substantial rupee depreciation in the past year and headline inflation now scaling new heights every month. Increased cost of inputs is making it difficult for fruit and vegetable exporters to remain competitive in international markets.
Stiff competition in the international market with Turkey and Morocco in terms of their quality and price has also made it difficult for Pakistan. Changes in climatic conditions and lack of Research and Development facilities in Pakistan has made it hard to enhance the quality and production of this delicious fruit and increase its shelf life.
All these problems are surely there, but there’s massive room for periodic improvements.
Solution to Exporters’ Problems:
Local exporters this year have set a target for exporting 3.5 lac tonnes of Kinnow to international markets. The probability of achieving this target has also increased due to the coronavirus, with countries across the globe turning their attention towards another massive yield of fruit in Pakistan. Construction of various roads under CPEC has also helped fruits and vegetables in reaching markets.
Keeping in view the highly anticipated Kinnow yield during the new season, coupled with on-and-off supply-chain issues, Pakistan is still capable to increase its total exports of the fruit and associated products to $1 billion. To achieve this, there’s a need for the government to integrate the local supply and distribution channels in accordance with international practices and grant some relief to the fruit and vegetable exporters. If the local production is increased then a huge portion of international market can be grabbed. The fertile land may be increased and the uncultivable land can be brought under cultivation.
Increase in Fruits and Vegetables’ share in Country’s export is need of time. Government should help this sector by accessing new international markets, establishing more cold storage and packaging facilities and effective branding. Pakistan can also export fruits and vegetables to massive markets such as China, and avail the friendly relations between the two countries and their economic partnership of the Pakistan China Economic Corridor (CPEC) which provides routes to China via road by further improving the quality of fruits.