Fruit, vegetable exports hit by coronavirus

Updated February 18, 2020

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Fruits and vegetables exporters are facing problems due to shortage of reefer containers following reduction in the volume of import cargo from China where a thousand people have died due to coronavirus.  — File
Fruits and vegetables exporters are facing problems due to shortage of reefer containers following reduction in the volume of import cargo from China where a thousand people have died due to coronavirus. — File

KARACHI: Fruits and vegetables exporters are facing problems due to shortage of reefer containers following reduction in the volume of import cargo from China where a thousand people have died due to coronavirus.

All Pakistan Fruit and Vegetable Exporters, Importers and Merchants Association Patron-in-Chief Waheed Ahmed said it’s peak export season for kinnow, potato and onion but they are suffering due to acute shortage of empty reefer containers.

One hundred reefer containers per day consisting of kinnow, potato and onion are being exported from Pakistan and after suspension of the garlic imports from China, which were also being re-exported from here, he claimed. Against the demand of 1,500 such containers a week, around 1,000 are hardly available, he added.

Ahmed said the opportunity to export onion from Pakistan has further brightened after India suspensed its and likewise, that of kinnow is also on the peak. Around 600-plus reefer containers of the fruit and the same volume of reefer containers of potato and onion are being exported per month from Pakistan.

Besides, garlic and other fruits and vegetables are being exported as well and this is a unique opportunity to enhance that manifold.

However, exporters would miss this golden opportunity owing to refeer containers’ shortage caused by low imports from China, he said.

According to Ahmed, exporters’ problems have further multiplied following increase in per container freight. Two months back, shipping companies were charging $1,200 per container as freight charge for Colombo which is now $1,900, he claimed.

The freight charge to Malaysia seaport Kelang has been increased from $900 to $1,600 per container, while for Chittagong, it rose from $1,700 to $2,400 while for Dubai to $1,400 from $1,000.

Published in Dawn, February 18th, 2020