Agriculture is a key sector in the economy of Pakistan that contributes nearly 19 per cent to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and employs about 42 per cent of its workforce. It has strong backward and forward linkages with manufacturing industries and significantly contributes to value-added economic activity Around two-third population of the country living in the rural areas is directly or indirectly dependent on agriculture for their livelihood. Given its importance in the national economy, the federal government accords a high priority to increasing agricultural productivity with a view to raise competitiveness and income levels of farmers of the country.
Horticulture is an important sub-sector of agriculture that plays a vital role in the strengthening of the rural economy. In horticultural crops, fruits and vegetables are rich sources of important vitamins and minerals that improve the nutrition and health of the people.
Pakistan is blessed with four seasons an favorable ecological environment for the production of numerous fruits and vegetables. Citrus, mangoes, and dates are the main fruit crops while onions and potatoes are the main vegetables which contribute substantially to the national income. Pakistan stands among top ten producers and exporters of mangoes, citrus fruits and dates. Onions and potatoes are exported as well as imported.
Except a few years, Pakistan has somehow faced trade deficit since its inception. Pakistan’s major exports comprise of few commodities which include cotton manufactures, rice, leather, fish, fish preparations, and sporting goods. These exports are limited prices. to few countries as 50 per cent exports are destined to the United States of America (USA), United Arab Emirates, China, United Kingdom (UK), Afghanistan, Iran and Germany. Similarly, Pakistan’s imports are also concentrated in few markets. Owing to continuous trade deficit, the recent trade
policies are mainly focused on export expansion, competitiveness and transformation from factor to efficiency and innovation-based economy. Pakistan is actively pursuing bilateral and multi-lateral trade agreements including South Asian Free Trade Area (SAFTA) and Pak-China Free Trade agreements. Pakistan is a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and enjoys GSP and GSP Plus status from the USA and the European Union, respectively, However, Pakistan could not reap benefits from all these arrangements which highlight he need for enhancing the competitiveness and supply of exports at international market
As stated above, major fruits comprise mangoes, citrus and dates while major vegetables include potatoes and onions. These fruits and vegetables capture a major share in production and export of horticultural crops. Comparatively, potato production reflected a clear increasing trend. Relatively, a stable trend can also be viewed in the production of dates as well. According to the facts and figures available from quarters concerned, average production of citrus over the years has remained at 2077 thousand tones. Dates production varied from 4264 to 6303 thousand tones. Average production of level of mango remained at 1611.5 thousand tones. Average production levels of onions and potatoes have remained at 1747.5 and 2968.7 thousand tones respectively.
Trends in exports of three fruits citrus, dates and mangoes exhibit an increasing trend. Exports of citrus are in leading position followed by dates and mangoes.
CITRUS: Pakistan is ranked among top ten producers and exporters of citrus in the world. However, its exports exhibit a high variation. Among citrus, kinnow is the main exportable item which accounts for about 95 per cent of Pakistan’s mandarin export. Over the past 10 years while production and exports have increased, market share in high price markets such as the European Union have declined significantly. Exports have increased in lower value markets of developing countries including Afghanistan, Iran Indonesia and Malaysia and the Russian Federation. In spite of some characteristics such as sweetness, juice content, easy to peel, the major citrus variety, kinnow mandarin, is somehow regarded as a low value fruit due to seed presence and issues relating to fruit quality, appearance and chemical residues.
MANGOES: Pakistan stands among the leading mango producing and exporting countries of the world. Pakistani mangoes are famous for their delicious taste. A number of mango varieties are produced in Pakistan which differ in physiological characteristics, particularly shape, order, size, colour, sugar content level and acidity etc. While production is dominated by two major varieties Chaunsa and Sindhri, other vareties such as Langra, Anwar Ratole, Dusehri and Neelum are cultivate to a lesser extent. Only Chaunsa and Sindhri varieties have a significant contribution in making commercial value of mango fruits.
DATES: Pakistan is included among top five producers and exporters of dates in the world. Sindh is the main dates producing
province and about 300 varieties of dates are being produced there. Dates are among the highly consumable fruits in Pakistan particularly its consumption is increased manifolds in the holy month of Ramzan ul Mubarik.
ONION: Onion is a highly consumable vegetable in Pakistan and is used as an essential ingredient in cooking various foods. Although Pakistan is one of the major producers of onions in the world, it is not the leading exporter of onions. Onions are an integral component of the Pakistani diet, consumed almost every day. The consumption onionsrises during specific events such as holy month of fasting Ramzan and Eid-ul-Azha, and at the times when marriage ceremonies are mostly arranged. Punjab and Sindh are the leading producing provinces of onions. Majority of onion producers in Punjab, Balochistan and Khyber Pukhtoonkhwa are small holders with less than 5 hectares.
Although Pakistan once had very wide range of germplasm, currently two varieties Nassarpuri and Phulkara dominate domestic production. These varies also have issues associated with storage life. Little seed is imported and certified seed is not produced domestically. Yields in Sindh, the largest producer, and Punjab, the largest consumer, provinces are below regional and world averages, suggesting that improvements in farm productivity are possible. There is a lack of suitable facilities for onion drying and storage. Poor storability limits exports to those markets that are nearby such as UAE, Sri Lanka and Malaysia.
able vegetable in Pakistan both in fresh and processed forms such as chips and fries. Pakistan ranks at about 20th level in the world production of potatoes. Punjab province is the major producer and contributes 90 per cent to total potato production in the country. About 65 to 70 per cent of farmers in Punjab are small and medium with landholdings below 25 acres.
Since 2000, the potato area has increased by about 60 per cent and production volume has also more than doubled. All the increase has come from Punjab province which has more than 90 per cent contribution in potato production. The yield in Punjab at around 20tha are line with the China average of 20tha but well below those obtained in the developing countries.
POTATO: Potato is also a highly consume According to the information available from the All Pakistan Fruit and Vegetable Exporters, Importers and Merchants Association, despite the outbreak of pan demic of Corona Virus, Pakistan’s exports of fruits and vegetables wave witnessed a modest jump of 12.5 % during fiscal year 2019-20 which fetched $ 730 million in precious foreign exchange for the country.
The value of import of fruits and vegetables totaled $ 218 million. Sales of commodity items to Pakistan decreased by 3.91 per cent in value terms compared to 2019.sss
Besides fruits and vegetables mentioned above, Pakistan also exports and imports fruits and vegetables including edible oil, fruits and nuts, apples, bananas, grapes fresh and died, quinces fresh, apricots, water melons, papayas, guavas, peaches, sloes among others.
Pakistan’s partners in exports of fruits, vegetables etc. include Afghanistan, UAE, Russia, UK, Saudi Arabia, Philippines,
Indonesia, Oman, Qatar and Uzbekistan
Pakistan’s partners in imports of fruits, vegetables etc. include Afghanistan, Iran.
USA, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, China, Vietnam. Malaysia, Australia and Saudi Arabia.
There is dire need to increase exports of fruits and vegetables from Pakistan. This will help in reducing trade deficit and raising foreign exchange reserves to partially finance heave import bill and payment of external debt as well as generating employment opportunities. Competitiveness of fruits and vegetables can be enhanced through investing in research, development and improvements in infrastructure.
Improvements in yields can also be attained through improved seed quality, better pest and disease management and lowering post-harvest losses. There is also need to build good roads from farm to market and making arrangements good quality transport vessels on priority basis in order to boost fruits and vegetables exports.