Pakistan’s Mango Crisis: Climate Change Leads to Drastic Production Drop

In the fertile lands of Pakistan, where the sweet fragrance of mangoes once wafted through the air, a crisis looms large. Climate change, an unrelenting force, has tightened its grip on the country’s beloved mango orchards, leading to a substantial decrease in yield for the third year in a row. The impact is profound, with experts fearing a drop in production by as much as 600,000 metric tonnes this year alone.

Punjab and Sindh, the heartlands of mango cultivation in Pakistan, contributing 70% and 29% to the national produce respectively, are witnessing a drastic reduction in yield. Punjab’s output is expected to plummet by 35-40%, while Sindh may see a decrease of less than 20%. This alarming trend is not just a blow to the local economy but also to the taste buds of mango aficionados worldwide.

The All Pakistan Fruit and Vegetable Exporters Association (APFVEA) has been forced to lower its export target to 100,000 metric tonnes for the current season, a stark contrast to the previous year’s goal of 125,000 metric tonnes. The decline in export-quality mangoes has made it challenging to meet international demand, thereby affecting Pakistan’s position in the global market.

The repercussions of climate change are manifold. Long winters, followed by heavy rains and hail, have altered the pattern of agricultural diseases, while heatwaves have disrupted the normal life cycle of mango trees, affecting both tree health and fruit quality. The sector, worth over Rs100 billion, is also grappling with rising costs of electricity, gas, transportation, garden maintenance, pesticides, and water management.

Despite these challenges, there is a silver lining. The APFVEA is focusing on value-added markets such as China, America, Turkey, and Japan, with efforts to stabilize exports through Afghanistan to Central Asian countries and Iran. Moreover, the association is working in collaboration with the Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP) to promote Pakistani mangoes in Turkey and Far East countries.

As the mango season approaches, the industry holds its breath, hoping to achieve the export target and generate $90 million in foreign exchange. However, the need for serious efforts at the federal and provincial levels to protect the agricultural sector from the effects of climate change is more urgent than ever. Research enabling orchards to develop resilience against harsh weather conditions and disease resistance is crucial for the survival of this sector.

Ultimately, despite the challenging circumstances, the steadfastness of Pakistan's farmers and the tactical initiatives of the APFVEA hold the promise of a thriving mango harvest in the future. This scenario highlights the unwavering determination of Pakistan's farming sector, persistently overcoming obstacles in pursuit of their well-deserved triumph.

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