KARACHI: Overall vegetable exports swelled by 90 per cent in quantity and 57pc in value during the first four months of the current fiscal year thanks to brisk potato shipments that have offset the declining trend in onion exports due to huge crop destruction in Sindh and Balochistan.
The total vegetable exports stood at 378,826 tonnes during July-October fetching $107 million compared to 199,119 tonnes valuing $68m in 4MFY22, the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics data showed.
Exporters made an extra effort to send huge vegetable shipments despite getting low rates on the world markets. Amid a rosy volume of exports in terms of quantity, the average per tonne price fetched by local vegetables stood lower at $284 in 4MFY23 as compared to $342 in the same period last fiscal year.
In FY22, the earnings from vegetable exports of 937,203 tonnes were $310m as against $319m from 950,369 tonnes in FY21, showing a drop of 1.39pc in quantity and 3pc in value.
Increase not in line with shipments, which skyrocket 90pc, as exporters couldn’t get better prices
All Pakistan Fruits and Vegetable Exporters, Importers and Merchants Association Patron-in-Chief Waheed Ahmed said vegetables were exported every year depending on their availability but potato and onion hold a big share. “A bumper potato crop has proved highly helpful in offsetting the falling exports of onion.
This year, floods in Sindh and Balochistan have devastated onion crops, thus restricting its bulk shipments to various countries otherwise overall export figures would be more impressive,” he remarked.
He said most of the potato shipments were destined for CIS countries, the Middle East, the Far East, Iraq, etc.
As per the Economic Survey of FY22, potato production soared to 7.937m tonnes in FY22 from 5.873m tonnes in FY21, up by 35pc as floods did not hit Punjab which is a hub of the country’s potato production.
Mr Waheed said the association had suggested to the government go for barter trade by exchanging potatoes with wheat from Russia but it could not be materialisd.
He said onions were exported in little quantities before floods hit crops in Sindh and Balochistan. The real negative impact on onion exports would be visible by end of the current fiscal year.
On fetching low value in overall vegetable exports despite higher volumes, Mr Waheed said vulnerable exchange rates could not help get better prices despite good demand on the world markets.
Winter has always been termed a blessing because of the falling trend in vegetable prices but this year the situation is quite reversed due to floods that have played havoc with onions, tomatoes and many green crops in Sindh and Balochistan.
As a result, imports of onion and tomatoes have been mobilised a few months back to bridge the demand and supply gap but it could not arrest the bullish price trend due to huge profit margins charged by the retailers and exchange rate fluctuations.
Consumers are paying Rs180-200 per kg for onion as compared to Rs70-80 per kg in the first week of July while old potato rates were Rs40-60 per kg as compared to Rs80. The new potato price had fallen to Rs80 from Rs130 when the crop hit the market 15 days back.
Published in Dawn, December 4th, 2022