Pakistan is exporting a greater quantity of fruits and vegetables, but forex gains remain limited. The reason is it is not investing in those technologies that are a must for enhancing outputs and improving quality of exports. Also the efforts to reach out to new export markets need an impetus.
In eight months of this fiscal year i.e. between July 2018 and Feb 2109, forex earnings of fruits and vegetables totalled $479 million. In the same period last year it was $387m. While this gain of $92m or about 24 per cent looks impressive, this was only achieved after exporting much larger quantities of fruits and vegetables, squeezing supplies in local markets.
Between July-Feb FY19, Pakistan’s exports of fruits and vegetables stood in excess of 1.165m tons. In July-Feb FY18 it was 1.016m tons. In other words, supplies to local markets shrank by no less than 149,000 tons. Its effect can be seen in higher prices of almost all fruits and a number of vegetables, minus potato. There was also a potato glut this year.
The numbers, reported by the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics, show a couple of things. Firstly, exports of fruits and vegetable are far lower than the country’s potential. Secondly, the average per ton export price is low. And thirdly, since this is in continuation of a trend, more needs to be invested in revamping and modernising our horticulture sector.
In the entire last fiscal year, combined export earnings of fruits and vegetables rose to around $641.7m from $565.8m a year ago, or just around 12%. Meanwhile, export volumes grew to 15.85m tons from 12.78m tons or 24%.