Prospects of potato exports have increased in the wake of better crop this season. Exports are expected to start after a gap of two years from this month. Exporters have decided this year not to wait for huge export orders and grab even small order of meagre quantities. Last season farmers had suffered colossal monetary losses due to halt in exports and lack of subsidies to help them overcome their miseries, according to Ahmad Jawad, CEO Harvest Trading.
On account of halt in export activities, previous year’s huge quantity of potatoes, which stood at around 600,000 to 700,000 tones, were lying either in warehouses of farmers or in the field without any proper safety or required care needed to preserve them in the traditional growing areas of the country.
Pakistan will have a stiff competition with India and Bangladesh as their price is expected to be at 200 dollars per ton as compared to Pakistan’s 210 dollars per ton. Buyers are bound to be attracted to lower rates. Till date the private sector engaged in exports using their own resources and drastic addition of $1500/40ft on the reefer containers, without adding any new technology in the existing system, is considered unjustifiable.
Talking to Business Recorder, Jawad questioned, is there any government agency which could monitor freight charges being unilaterally increased by the shipping lines from time to time and without any reason. Expressing utter dismay over the unilateral decision of shipping lines, he said it would badly affect fresh pproduce export of the country.
He expressed the fear that buyer may cancel the coming month orders of potatoes and Kinnow due to revised freight, because it is already expensive in the international market with the high input cost. If we take an example of Kinnow export, the addition has been of Rs 150,000 on all new shipments.
Unless the decision is subsidised / reversed or some middle way is found, exporters will have no choice but to forget high value markets. Pakistan’s fruit export market grew by 8.1 percent between 2010-11 and 2011-12. In vegetables, country fetched 180.6 million dollars by exporting edible vegetables in fiscal year of 2011-12. Country lack’s in modern infrastructure in terms of cold storages and pack houses. Every year Kinnow earned around 100 million dollars, dates around 29 million dollars and potato Rs 15 million in export revenue.