ISLAMABAD: Pakistan exported its first batch of fresh cherries to China using a reefer container and projected a total quantity of 260 tonnes by the end of this month.

An official announcement from the Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP) said the first cargo was six tonnes, followed by 12 tonnes, beginning Monday and lasting until June 30.

The country’s success in exporting the fruit is due to the phytosanitary agreement signed between China and Pakistan in 2022, under which Beijing granted Islamabad market access for fresh cherries.

China imports most of its cherries from Chile, with an annual demand of around 350,000 tonnes valued at $3 billion.

Approximately 5,000 tonnes of cherries are produced in Gilgit-Baltistan per season. These cherries are mostly sold at low prices in local markets. The protocol with China has allowed the growers to meet the Chinese market’s demand.

To implement the protocol, the TDAP and Department of Plant Protection (DPP) assisted eligible orchard owners in registering with the General Administration of Chinese Customs (GACC).

Pakistan Horticulture Development & Export Company (PHDEC) also conducted cherry product development activities to educate farmers on producing renowned varieties like black and French cherries.

With these efforts, more than 100 cherry orchards and a cold storage and packing house at Rahim Abad are registered with GACC. The approval of the cherry orchards and the processing facility led to the expedition to export fresh cherries to China.

The National Logistic Cell (NLC) has provided the required reefer containers. The Export Development Fund (EDF) meets the logistic cost of cherry exports.

TDAP Chief Executive Zubair Motiwala has said that growers will be a major beneficiary of the export of cherries. He said that TDAP and PHDEC are trying to ensure growers get maximum benefits by exploring the huge Chinese market.

He also noted that the protocol on cherries was signed in November 2022, and within one year, they have not only registered more than 100 cherry orchards with GACC but also built growers’ capacity.

PHDEC chief executive Athar Hussain Khokhar has said that by producing the required varieties of cherries, the country can capture a large chunk of the $3bn Chinese cherry market.

“Proximity and growing demand for the fruit in the Chinese market are a major competitive advantage to GB growers,” he added.

Published in Dawn, June 7th, 2024

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