During the year new records were established in the exports of potato, onion and kinnow. Exports of fruits and vegetables which stood at US $538 million in 2011-12 went up to US $625 during 2012-13. After a lapse of seven years, exports of potatoes to Middle East were resumed during the year. The ban on exports of potato to Middle East from Saudi Arabia proved a blessing in disguise for Pakistan as it got ready space in the market for its potatoes.
Potato exports touched a record figure of three hundred thousand tons and so was the case with onion exports due to a bumper home crop, he said, adding that because of floods and rains, Pakistan had to import onions from Bharat in 2011-12. However, Waheed Ahmed said that during 2012-13 Pakistan exported onions in a big way and established a record of 2.5 lakh tons exports, so also during the same period export target for Kinnow, ie 275,000 tons was also achieved. He expressed satisfaction that Pakistan had now access to three new markets, ie South Korea, Mauritius and Japan and soon Australian market might also be available for the export of Pakistani fruits and vegetables.
Chairman, PFVA said that unlimited opportunities were available for the export of fruits and vegetables and with a little more efforts exports could reach US $1 billion in three years. He, however, emphasised that to maintain export level, research and development would have to be given top priority. Waheed Ahmed feared that in case research and development in horticulture sector was not taken seriously, exports of fruits and vegetables would come to a halt and Pakistan might have to import them for local consumption.
Keeping in view the importance of research and development PFVA, after taking all the stakeholders and concerned departments into confidence has started preparation for research and development road map at national level. In the first stage consultations are being held with all the important universities and research institutes. A team of agriculture department of Karachi University would visit PFVA office on Monday and hold a briefing on their projects. A decision would also be taken on signing an MoU between Karachi University and PFVA.