Fruit exporters of Pakistan have projected a drop in kinnow exports on the back of soaring freight costs combined with reduction in output of the citrus fruit due to climate change.

“Kinnow exporters are in a state of immense uncertainty as export of the commodity during the current season is likely to be limited to 300,000 tons,” said All Pakistan Fruit and Vegetable Exporters, Importers and Merchants Association (PFVA) Patron-in-Chief Waheed Ahmed in a statement on Tuesday. “This is 35% lower than outward shipments of the fruit in the previous year.”

Highlighting that the kinnow export season was due to commence from December 2021, he regretted that large-scale preparation for export of the fruit had not started yet.

Just a handful of kinnow factories in Sargodha were making preparations for export, he noted. He added that exorbitant hike in sea freight would discourage exporters to ship lofty amounts of citrus fruit abroad.

Due to this issue, outward shipment of the fruit from Pakistan to Russia, Canada, Ukraine, Indonesia, and the Philippines is projected to decline. He pointed out that these nations purchased 50% of exportable kinnow of Pakistan every year.

Last year, the export of the fruit clocked in at 450,000 tons against the export target of 350,000 tons.

Speaking to The Express Tribune, Arif Habib Commodities CEO Ahsan Mehanti was of the view that the new Covid variant would pose additional challenges to the exporters.

On the other hand, imports will nosedive as well to a huge extent owing to surge in freight cost, he said.

According to him, the overall trade deficit would widen due to a drop in imported commodities that are used in the export oriented textile industry.

HMI Pakistan Logistics Director Hussain Ali Ratnani, who acts as forwarding agent for many kinnow exporters, projected a significant drop in export value of kinnow this year on the back of strengthening dollar.

He added that lower harvest during the ongoing season would narrow down the export volume further.

“Besides soaring freight charges, there is a shortage of refrigerated containers and this will act as an additional obstacle for export of local kinnow,” he said.

Union of Small and Medium Enterprises (UNISAME) President Zulfikar Thaver blamed climate change and cartel of shipping companies for fewer orders from the overseas buyers.

“Enhancing productivity is the answer to inflation,” Thaver said.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 1st, 2021.

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