There are more than 28 types of fruits and 30 types of vegetables are grown in the country throughout the year. Amongst them all are detoured in the domestic markets..
Production of peach, persimmon and pomegranate reflects the strong domestic market demand for horticulture crops. Citrus fruits, primarily Kino, are the largest fruit crop by volume and a major export revenue earner. Pakistan is also the fourth largest producer of dates.
In fiscal year 2006, around 1754 million tons of mango was produced out of which only 1.25 million tons (0.07 per cent) was exported. The fruits and vegetable production area has increased rapidly in recent years reaching 1060.8 million hectares in 2006.
The world horticulture market is valued at $80 billion to which Pakistan contributes $130 million annually. Only about 16 per cent of fruits are being processed. The potential markets for Pakistan exporters have been identified in Europe and the Middle East. However, the fruits and vegetables exported in fresh form attracted discount prices as exporters are unable to provide adequate grading and packing.
The country`s horticulture export industry share in world market rose steadily from about five per cent in 1991 to about 12 per cent in 2004. Pakistan exported 2,68,741 tons of fruits and vegetables worth $79.83 million while the export of vegetables stood at $22.5 million in 2006-07. During July-Feb 2007-08 export of vegetables was of $46.6 million which fell to $30.8 million in the same period in 2008-09.
In comparative terms, exports of fruits amounted to $108.9 million which rose to $110.4 million in 2008-09. Out of the total exports of fruits and vegetables, the share of mango was 53,443 tons valuing at $16.54 million showing an increase of 43 per cent over the previous year.
According to the latest figures fruit and vegetables export from the country has increased by 68.69 per cent and 117.54 per cent respectively during the first half of the current financial year. About 2,92,578 metric tons of fruit worth $116.11 million was exported as compared to 179,399 metric tons of fruit worth $ 68.83 million in the same period last year. Similarly, about 141,901 metric tons of vegetables were exported as against 62,967 metric tons in the same period last year.
In NWFP and Northern Areas, there is great room and scope for promotion of citrus fruits, peaches, plums, apricot, persimmon, apple, strawberry, guava etc. In Punjab citrus, mango and guava, while in Sindh mango, banana, dates and papaya and in Baluchistan apple, grapes, dates, stone fruits (apricot, peach, plum, cherry etc.) and pistachio can be targeted for international marketing by promoting processing industry for value addition and export.
The development of the sector needs investment and finance. However, banks` credit to this sector is only 4-5 per cent of total agricultural credit. The disbursement to horticulture was only around Rs6.5 billion in 2006-07 against total agricultural disbursement of Rs169 billion.
To step up financing of horticulture, the SBP issued guidelines to the banks in December 2007.