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Fruit processing industry facing problems.

Mr. Naeem Tahir, President, Pakistan Fruit Processor Association (PFPA) in an interview said over the last four years no concrete steps were taken as recommended by the National Commission on Agriculture. He said as the Chairman of the NCA, Sartaj Aziz should immediately introduce the reforms and relaxations he himself had suggested four years ago. He said the horticulture industry had immense potential to earn foreign exchange. He pointed out that the NCA had assessed that the horticulture industry products could earn foreign exchange to the tune of four billion dollars if the sector was well supported within a short span of 15 years.

The present foreign exchange earnings of the sector were 40 million dollars which Mr. Tahir described as very low. He added that the minimum achievable target for the first three years was set at 500 million dollars, then two billion dollars in five years which would gradually rise to four billion dollars within 15 years.

To achieve these targets, Mr. Tahir said, steps to be taken include optimum use of |installe' capacity' by industry, specific incentives, horticultural activity to convert |surplus' into |industrial processing fruit' to increase the yields and the government to launch international publicity as an integral part of international marketing.

The PFPA Chairman said that following a very successful seminar organised by the Association a special team of highly experienced industrialists was formed to prepare a report for the government. The team which included eminent industrialists besides representative of the USAID and Chairman of the PARC Dr. Zafar Altaf was busy preparing the report which would be a very useful document.

Ikramullah Khan, Vice Chairman of the PFPA, said the horticulture industry would earn precious foreign exchange for the country from the fruit produce which was considered as |perishable' fruit and was at present going waste. He said at present a minimum of 35 per cent of total fruit produce of the country was going waste because it could not be sold in the market owing to its extremely low quality. This was damaging for the growers because they were facing a big loss in the shape of low quality products unacceptable in the market and the situation had also adverse effects on the prices because the grower had to meet that loss by raising the prices of good quality fruits. "If the horticulture industry was offered the incentives and relaxations promised in the NCA report all that perishable 35 per cent fruit could have been fully utilised. This would not only have helped the growers a great deal but would also have enabled the horticulture industrial units to produce more which would have ultimately resulted in earning more foreign exchange", Mr. Ikramullah said.

Syed Agha Asif Mehdi Shah strongly refuted the apprehension that the horticulture industry would lead to unprecedented increase in the prices of fruit in the market and it would become a luxury to be enjoyed only by the elite and upper class of the country. "The horticulture industry consumes the fruit which never reaches the market. This is the lowest quality which is considered as waste by the growers that we are interested in", he said. "In fact as the growers will be getting a price for the products which they are forced to destroy at present, it will give them extra money and this could result in fall of prices and not increase", Agha Asif said.
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Title Annotation:Business Opinion; Pakistan
Publication:Economic Review
Article Type:Industry Overview
Date:Jul 1, 1992
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