ISLAMABAD: Pakistani mangoes made their debut in the huge US market on Saturday, but this was achieved only after a five-year struggle waged by some dedicated officials in Pakistan and some US leaders committed to provide Pakistan a better trade option.
The Ministry of Food and Agriculture has so far registered 15 Global Gap Certified Orchards for export of mangoes from Pakistan with allocation of unique code identification numbers.
Similarly, eight packing houses have been approved for the export of mangoes.
Seven importers have been issued permits by the US Department of Agriculture, including the Pakistani Consulate in Chicago. The first consignment was sent on July 27.
National Animal and Plant Health Inspection Services (Naphis) developed the strategy to export mangoes to the US.
Naphis initiated its activities as a project in 2006 and a meeting was held in US in 2007 among Thomas Wilsack, Secretary, Agriculture, Bruce Knight, US Under Secretary of Agriculture for Marketing and Regulatory Programme, and Zahoor Malik, Director General of Naphis, in which a strategy was developed for Pakistan-US Agri-knowledge initiative.
Naphis persuaded the American leadership to include agriculture in the areas of cooperation under Pak-US Strategic Dialogue. To facilitate mango export to US, Malik and Secretary ministry of food visited the US to sign a Framework Equivalency Work Plan (FEWP) with USDA in 2007, allowing the use of irradiation as a Phyto-sanitary measure. Subsequent to the signing of FWEP, the Ministry of Food issued a gazette notification in December, 2007, notifying the terms and conditions for registration of irradiation treatment facilities for Phyto-sanitary treatment of plants and animals meant for export and import.
The Pakistan Horticulture Development and Export Company (PHDEC) had prepared Standard Operating Procedures (SoPs) for export of mangoes to the US and an irradiation facility was set up with the co-operation of the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission.
The operation of the irradiation facility required approval by US authorities prior to treatment of mangoes for US market.
In October 2008, Operating Procedures for the irradiation facility, calibration of dosi-metry and regulations for safety check of the plant were set up.
In November 2009, the USDA sent a team of technical experts headed by Dr Rizvi, Senior Plant Pathologist, USDA. The mission visited Pakistan to help in the preparation of pre-clearance programme for export of mango. It also held consultative meetings with mango producers, exporters, government officers and regulatory officials.
In 2010, a Mango Pest Risk Assessment was undertaken by the National Plant Protection Organization, a line department of Naphis, and shared with APHIS-USDA.
A visit of Pakistan’s technical experts was arranged in May 2010. Later Malik held a lengthy meeting with now late Richard Holbrooke, special representative of US for Afghanistan and Pakistan, and emphasised the inclusion of agriculture in Pak-US Strategic Dialogue and Afghanistan-Pakistan-US Trilateral Consultations, including mango export programme to US.