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Pakistani Mango Crop Set To Recover After Last Year’s Heatwave
Pakistan witnessed an extreme heatwave during last year’s spring months that strongly affected the crop of mangos, the country’s second-largest fruit export after citrus fruits. Mango trees, which are vulnerable to temperature variations during the flowering period, suffered under the unusually high temperatures — up by 3–8 degrees Celsius from the average — causing the 2022/23 harvest to plummet by half.
In addition to thermometer readings reaching record highs, mango growers experienced severe water shortages. Although farmers actively pumped groundwater in an effort to protect the trees from heat stress, much of this was unsuitable for agricultural use because of varying salt levels, potentially complicating future plant and fruit growth.
Pakistan’s annual mango production averages 1.8 million metric tons, of which approximately 150,000 metric tons are exported. Given last year’s weather challenges, the export target for 2022/23 was reduced by one-sixth to 125,000 metric tons early in the season, according to Waheed Ahmed, patron in chief of the All Pakistan Fruit & Vegetable Exporters, Importers & Merchants Association.
While final figures for fiscal year 2022/23 (July–June) have yet to be released, the available statistics show that Pakistan’s mango production has either decreased or remained stagnant over the past decade. To boost mango yield and exports, several government departments and industry stakeholders worked together to develop the Fruits and Vegetables Export Strategy, which will be implemented between 2023 and 2027. As part of the strategy, China is highlighted as a premium market for Pakistani mangos, with greater exports to this lucrative market representing one of the key goals. A number of investments have also been proposed with the purpose of enhancing the sector’s pest control and management, farm hygiene, cold chain transportation and other attributes to more successfully meet China’s import requirements.
In response to the recent climate vagaries, industry members have recommended that the government invest in the research and development of heat-resistant cultivars, the establishment of small-scale meteorological stations providing area-specific updates, and the expansion of digital channels for agriculture, such as real-time advisory services to offer growers rapid assistance in the case of unexpected events.
This year’s moderate March and April temperatures have the sector hoping for a stronger crop in the current season, with an initial production forecast of 1.7 million metric tons having been announced.
The Pakistani mango industry is sparing no effort in promoting its fruit in China, organizing webinars with Chinese importers and distributors as well as mango festivals and other marketing events. However, exports have not yet reached the anticipated level. In 2022, Pakistan exported only 23.95 metric tons of fresh or dried mangos to China with a value of $55,605, down from 37.42 metric tons and $127,200 in 2021.
Images: Pixabay (main image), ProPakistani (body image)
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