CITRUS is the one of the most important fruit crop which is contributing in gaining currency to Pakistan. The area under citrus cultivation is about 199,000 hectares, and it shares almost 40% of all fruits produce in Pakistan. Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Dubai, Bahrain, Oman, Qatar, Netherlands, Singapore, Indonesia, UK, Russia and Malaysia are the major markets of Pakistani Kinnow.
Pakistan citrus industry is facing different pre-harvest and post-harvest problems. These problems lead to low quality and quantity of fruits which ultimately results in less export and high economic losses to country. These problems include; Different Diseases and Pest attack, Alternate bearing (low yield in alternate year), Underdeveloped citrus industry, Lack of knowledge to growers about industry, Middle man (Biopari) involvement, Shortage of skilled labor, Poor management during harvesting, transportation, packing and storage, Unavailability of adequate research and development facilitates and unavailability of internationally accredited labs are major drawbacks to the citrus fruit export market of Pakistan.
Diseases and weather play a foremost role in decreasing international export of citrus. Prolong Moon Soon period cause different fungal and bacterial diseases that diminish the quality of fruit.Citrus Scab and Citrus Canker are most prevailing diseases in now days, which have been become leading threat in citrus export. These blemish the fruit and reduce the quality of fruit. Blemished fruit can’t be exported internationally. Post-harvest diseases also spoil the fruit, different type of molds attack on citrus fruit after harvesting and during storage. Other diseases and different insects are also involved in reduction of yield of citrus, which ultimately turns in economic losses.
Other main problems; Alternate bearing, which hinder the export due to low yield in alternate year. The citrus industry is still underdeveloped. This lacks in skilled labor and knowledgeable persons. There is big gap present between grower/farmer and the factories/industries, because of middle man (Biopari) that deals with farmer, who buy crops with a low price and resale it with higher prices, increasing import and other available obstacles.
Citrus marketing starts from the agreement of farmer/grower and the contractor (Post-harvest). Contractor is involved in the buying of hanging crop (Citrus on tree). Further marketing of citrus is done by contractor to processor through selling of crop after harvesting. Owing to involvement of middle mans the cost of citrus after processing for export become relatively higher compare to other markets. Most of our export depends upon kinnow, which is late maturing variety and has short life span during storage. On the other hand fruit processing factories/waxing and grading plant have less time available to process and export the citrus fruits to foreign countries. For the reason that involvement of different middle mans and short life span of exporting cultivar makes export difficult.
Only 1.99 percent of the total production of citrus fruit goes for processing. Inadequate processing facilities have restricted the significance of production of citrus fruit. The total marketing cost per hundred numbers of fruits at retail and wholesale level are estimated 23.48Rs and 26.75 Rs respectively. The market margin receives by Beoparis (middle man) are 16.67% and the net margin estimated, amounting to 2.25Rs per hundred numbers of fruits. The market margin for citrus retailers is estimated 17.84% with the net margin amounting to 9.52Rs per hundred numbers of fruits.
Pakistani processing factories are still dependent, different waxes and blast chillers are imported. The cost of processed citrus fruit will be high compares to developed countries
processing units. Due to lack of knowledge and skilled workers Sanitary and Phyto-sanitary measures of international markets are neglected. This leads to decrease in export to different major international markets.Co-ordination in research and extension, both at national, provincial and local levels appeared inconsistent, leading to wasted resources and duplication of effort.
One of the major constraints which can become a potential threat to industry is the maximum cultivation and export of Kinnow. Citrus industry has been monopolized by single citrus cultivar kinnow. Citrus industry can suddenly fall down if some problem happens with this cultivar.
The industry is facing problems of poor management, declining and aging of citrus trees and inadequate market infrastructure. All the mentioned problems lead to failure and declining citrus industry.
Recommendations: Government of Pakistan and other stakeholders should promote enhanced knowledge management approach.There is need to improve and promote parameters of Biosecurity in citrus industry by active legislation at federal and provisional level. Agriculture based non-interest loan schemes should be introduced by government at micro-level to empower citrus growers. Promote market and industry based intelligence and interests by organizing gatherings and conduct analysis to implement “Market driven industry development strategy”.
The Government of Pakistan should take firm steps to fill the gaps between farmers (citrus growers) and different research stations, which are working throughout the country. It can be done by developing good extension strategies and trained extensionists. Provisional extension agencies should be responsible to disseminate the new and innovative techniques to small farmers. Information should flow actively from research stations via extension department to farmers/growers, and this information should also be addresses to industry members to overcome the deficiencies.
Policies should be made by policy makers to overcome the problems of farmers. Govt. should include the private sector to improvise methodology in citrus industry. The gap between the farmer and processing units must be terminate, because of that cost of processed fruit increase which leads to high price of our fruit in international market.
Exotic suitable cultivars like Sweet Orange should be introduced in country to replace single monopolized cultivar Kinnow.
Dr. M. Aatif, Zohaib ul Hassan, Salman Ahmed