Sindh growers start mango exports, fetching better deals

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HYDERABAD: Mango growers in Sindh have started air shipment of consignments to the United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates from May 20.

Around 21,000 kg of mangoes have so far been sent to these destinations and more shipments are in the pipeline.

Meanwhile, there is a mixed assessment of the crop size of mangoes this year due to water shortage.

In May, All Pakistan Fruit and Vegetables Exporters, Importers and Merchants’ Association (PVFA) had set the mango export target at 100,000 tonnes for the current season.

Last year, the country shipped 128,000 tonnes fetching $68 million. Punjab shares 67 per cent of the total production of mangoes in Pakistan.

An exceptionally good flowering had taken place earlier in Sindh, raising hopes for a bumper mango crop. However, later assessment showed that water shortage in lower Sindh region — Nawabshah, Mirpurkhas, Tando Allahyar, Matiari — had impacted negatively.

Weather, water shortage unkind to Sindhri

“We have a good crop in our orchards this season,” says Ghulam Sarwar Abro, one of the eight Good Agriculture Practices (GAP) certified mango growers in Sindh.

He is part of a group of progressive mango growers and exporters who have installed hot water treatment plants and other internationally required fruit processing facilities at their farms.

Talking to the media, Mr Abro, whose large farm is located in Thatta district says, “Water shortage did have a serious impact in farms where groundwater is brackish and such orchard owners found it hard to offset impact of irrigation water shortage by using groundwater due to its quality. Luckily, I have sweet groundwater reserves at my farm.”

Irrigation water shortage during March-April — when fruit is at the stage of developing — has impacted negatively to a considerable extent.

Growers agree that this year’s Sindhri crop remains undersized.

“The crop size is satisfactory but it is certainly not the ‘bumper’ which we had initially expected,” says mango grower Mahmood Nawaz Shah.

Another mango grower Nadeem Shah, who let out his farm for Rs130,000 per acre to a contractor, says his farm had 15pc better production as compare to last year’s yields.

Sindh’s mango orchards stood at 154,040.553 acres last year as compare to 154329.666 acres in 2017.

Sindhri — the juicy variety of mango from Sindh — is currently available and market players are satisfied with the crop’s arrival.

According to Nisar Ahmed, initially for export purposes Sindhri was sold for Rs2,500/40kg and now is being sold at Rs2,800/40kg.

“Last year we sold it for Rs1,800/40kg but then suddenly the price shot up to Rs3,000/40kg in a week’s time. In local market mango is being sold of Rs2,600/40kg or Rs65/kg at the wholesale,” he says.

Vendors in retail market are selling Sindhri at Rs100-120 per kg currently.

Noted Karachi-based exporter and Patron-in-Chief PVFA Abdul Waheed strongly believes that Punjab’s mango production is badly hit this year and even Sindh’s crop is less than what was reported last year.

“I don’t rule out a 20pc drop in mango production in Sindh due to water shortage,” he says.

Sindh Agriculture Research Institute’s Pathologist Lehman Kumar is satisfied with the current mango crop.

“75pc of fruit bearing is seen in trees after second flowering in February. Early flowering in December-January period was not sustainable. Sindhri’s size, of course, is affected due to water shortage and lack of management practices by farmers,” he observes.

Mr Abro also shared information about non acceptability of fruits in Dubai due to use of calcium carbide for fruit ripening purposes which carries health risks.

“The consignments that reached Dubai initially didn’t get much appreciation and exports of such processed fruits to Dubai have dropped,” he adds.

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