International sanctions against Iran have severely hit Pakistan’s Kinnow exports to that country. Iran had been a large buyer of Pakistani Kinnow and used to import around 60 to 70 thousand tons of fruit but due to sanctions this lucrative market is going to be closed permanently.
Pakistan, though a major citrus producer, is still lagging behind in modern techniques when it comes to enhancing the value of citrus exports. Out of a total of two million tons of citrus produced annually, 90 percent is Kinnow. Besides the loss of Iranian market, strike by goods transporters in the month of December and imposition of GRI levy by the shipping lines of 1,500 dollars per 40 feet container would make it difficult for the exporters to achieve the target of 200,000 tons fixed for exports of Kinnow this year.
According to CEO Harvest Trading, Ahmad Jawad said Kinnow season would be over next month and at best Pakistan would be able to export 160,000 tons, fetching revenue of 70 million dollars only this year. Indonesia had enjoyed free access to Pakistan market for many items, including palm oil, for the past six years but has now stopped entry of our fresh produce through the Port of Jakarta.
As a result all Pakistani exports to the country must instead go via Surabaya City, Indonesia from where it is shipped over land at an additional cost of 2,500 dollars. Preferential Trade Agreement (PTA) was signed by Pakistan and Indonesia recently to enhance trade activities and exporters had expected unhindered market access for Kinnow export with a volume of 50,000 tons this season, but the target is unlikely to be achieved.
UAE and Saudi Arabia markets had always welcomed Pakistani Kinnow but sale in these markets depends on demand and supply. Currently in Jeddah the price of our Kinnow is cheaper compared to local market price. The Netherlands, Oman, Sri Lanka, Kuwait etc, consume small volumes which is not enough to achieve the target.
Pakistan Horticulture Development & Export Company, which is mandated to promote, regulate, co-ordinate and enhance the export of horticulture products, has in the last few years, nothing to display in the field of exploration of new markets and formulation of pragmatic policies for Kinnow exports. It is a situation of “now or never” whether the government provides incentives to the private sector with proper infrastructure or takes this industry towards disaster.