Food Ministry‘s poor strategy puts mango export in jeopardy

ISLAMABAD (Monitoring Desk): A department of Ministry of Food Security and Research (MoFS&R), Department of Plant Protection’s (DPP) poor strategy has placed the mango export target at risk, raising concerns within the agricultural industry. In a sudden move, the department announced new Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), granting No Objection Certificates (NOCs) exclusively to hot water treatment plants for the current season.

Mangoes exported from Pakistan undergo hot water treatment to safeguard against fruit flies. However, the Department of Plant Protection issued a complex and time-consuming set of new SOPs on June 12, causing significant disruption to the industry.

The recent developments have resulted in the closure of 90% of the 35 hot water treatment plants across the country, due to what stakeholders perceive as discriminatory policies and favoritism. The shutdown of these plants is estimated to cause a staggering loss of $44 million to Pakistan’s mango export earnings.

Expressing their reservations, the Pakistan Fruit and Vegetable Association (PFVA) addressed a letter to the Federal Ministry of National Food Security, highlighting the Plant Protection Department’s unfair practices. The PFVA’s letter emphasizes that certain hot water treatment plants, which enjoy special privileges, have been permitted to operate under the new SOPs, while modern and costly plants have been inexplicably shut down.

Furthermore, the letter contends that the Department of Plant Protection has refused to issue NOCs to the closed plants on the basis of minor objections unrelated to their core operations. It further asserts that these non-approved plants have successfully processed mangoes for export to various countries, including Europe, Iran, Australia, China, Kenya, and Iraq, for many years without any complaints from buyers.

With the closure of 90% of the hot water treatment plants, the remaining facilities are now under immense pressure, surpassing their processing capacities. This situation raises concerns about the ability to adequately treat mangoes destined for export from Pakistan.

The PFVA warns that failure to adhere to international standards due to the closure of the majority of processing plants may result in a ban on the export of mangoes infected with fruit flies from Pakistan.

In light of these developments, the PFVA has urged the Federal Ministry of Food Security to investigate the matter and take appropriate action against officials who are deemed responsible for hindering national trade. They assert that certain individuals are benefiting from the non-approval of hot water treatment plants, and their actions must be addressed to protect the interests of the country’s agricultural sector.

Meanwhile, fruit exporters from Balochistan, in a statement issued on Wednesday, have also alleged that the non-issuance of phyto certificates and treatment by a selected plant in Sindh have practically damaged the export of mango to Iran.  

The wrong strategy employed by the Department of Plant Protection has not only jeopardized the mango export target but also disrupted the industry, affecting both farmers and the national economy. Immediate attention and corrective measures are necessary to rectify the discriminatory policies and favoritism that have hindered the smooth functioning of the mango export sector.