Kinnow growers have rejected the purchase price of Rs800 per maund (40 kg) offered by fruit exporters and processing factories for the export season 2021-22.

Orchard owners demanded that the authorities address their grievances and announce a reasonable price for citrus purchase in light of the rising inflation, said Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) Standing Committee on Horticulture Exports’ former chairman Ahmad Jawad.

Talking to The Express Tribune, he highlighted that the price offered to kinnow growers last year was Rs900 a maund.

However, the value offered this year was unjustified as prices of fertiliser – an essential crop input – had increased significantly compared to the previous year due to massive rupee depreciation, he added.

According to market sources, some growers were seen securing deals at Rs900 a maund, despite a notification of the Punjab Agriculture Department that fixed the rate at Rs800 per maund, he highlighted.

“Diesel price has reached Rs146 per litre, so how can growers sell at a reduced rate when their cost of production has increased,” he questioned.

Prices of urea had swelled to Rs2,100 per bag, whereas the cost of di-ammonium phosphate (DAP) fertiliser surged to Rs8,000 a bag, he pointed out. “Potash price has gone up to Rs7,000 per bag.”

Comparing the figures, Jawad said that prices of urea and DAP were Rs1,200 and Rs2,380 per bag respectively during the tenure of previous government.

“Right now, there is mistrust between exporters and growers,” he revealed.

He stated that the growers were feeling that their share had been slashed by the exporters, who were making good profit as they did not share the international prices.

“Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI)’s district office-bearers have influence over kinnow processing units in Sargodha and some factory owners are even associated with the party, due to which they want to please them through attractive rates,” he claimed.

Punjab produced over 98% of the citrus fruit mainly in Sargodha district because of its favourable growing conditions and adequate canal and sub-soil water, Jawad said.

“Kinnow constitutes 80% of citrus fruits and is a major export commodity.”

Application of modern techniques during production and in the post-harvest phase added value to the fruit that attracted premium prices, he said, adding that it also helped in increasing exports that fetched foreign exchange.

The Citrus Research Institute Sargodha is responsible for undertaking research and development work on kinnow and other citrus varieties besides the Pakistan Agricultural Research Council (PARC).

Introduction of seedless varieties could lead to sustainable production of kinnow and increase in the area under cultivation, he said.

Jawad suggested to exporters to consult with growers prior to deciding citrus prices, but said that prices should not be less than Rs1,000 per maund.

Pakistan exported a record 460,000 tons of kinnow during 2020-21, an increase of 30% as compared to 353,000 tons exported in the previous year, he said, adding that it exported kinnow to 40 countries during the export season that concluded in April 2021.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 14th, 2021.

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