Matters to export mangoes and vegetables to Iran and other destinations with attractive freight rates resolved
Interview with Mr. Waheed Ahmed — Patron-in-Chief, Pakistan Fruit & Vegetable Exporters, Importers and Merchants Association (PVFA)
- Director Marketing — Iftekhar Ahmed & Co. (2004 to date)
- Appointed as Head of National Horticulture Committee, Government of Pakistan – FPCCI 2019
- Convener: FPCCI standing committee on fruit & vegetable exports
- Member: Fruit & Vegetable Committee at Trade Development Authority Pakistan
- Patron-in-Chief: All Pakistan Fruit & Vegetable, Exporters, Importers & Merchant Association (PFVA)
- Former Vice President: Elected as Vice President of the Pakistan Federation of Chamber of Commerce & Industry (year 2018)
- Acting President: Also discharged responsibilities as Acting President – FPCCI during absence of the President – FPCCI (year 2018)
- Chairman: FPPCI’s Standing Committee of Fruit & Vegetables Exports (2017)
- Chairman: All Pakistan Fruit & Vegetable, Exporters, Importers & Merchant Association (2015-2016)
- Member: Advisory Board on Agriculture, Livestock, Dairies Board of Investment Islamabad Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce & Industry(FPCCI)
- Member: Export Facilitation Committee of TDAP From Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FPCCI)
- Executive Member: Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FPCCI) (2016)
- Director: Pakistan Horticulture Development & Export Company [semi government] (2015-16)
- Director: Pak Russia Business Council of FPCCI (2015-2016)
- Executive Member: Agriculture Committee at Trade Development Authority Pakistan (2014-15)
- Chairman: FPCCI Standing Committee on Fruit & Vegetable Exports (2014)
- Advisor: Spokes Person and R&D — All Pakistan Fruit & Vegetable Exporters, Importers & Merchant Association (PFVA)
- Member: Export Development Fund, Ministry of Commerce, Government of Pakistan (2012- 13) (2015-16)
- Director: Pak Russia Business Council of FPCCI (2013-14)
- Director: Pak Ukraine Business Council of FPCCI (2012-14)
- Manager Marketing: Iftekhar Ahmed & Co. (2001-04)
- Chairman: All Pakistan Fruit & Vegetable, Exporters, Importers & Merchant Association (2009-10) & (2012-13)
- Director: Pakistan Horticulture Development and Export Company (semi government) (2012-13)
- Executive Member: Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FPCCI) (2011-12)
- Member Advisory Committee: Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP) (2009-10)
After completing his early education in Karachi, Mr. Waheed Ahmed graduated in business administration with specialization in marketing from American Intercontinental University, London. Thereafter he joined family-owned business, the Iftekhar Ahmed & Co (IAC), Karachi. The company has been engaged in fruits and vegetable handling business as grower, packer, processor, wholesaler, exporter of fresh fruit, vegetable, fruit pulp and clarified juice concentrate.
Mr. Waheed Ahmed was given the responsibility to strengthen the marketing & sales department with a vision to make IAC a reputable organization. In order to attain this objective, he demonstrated his visionary commitment by devoting his efforts and marketing skills to introduce IAC on the international platform. He represented his company around the globe and attended international trade fairs and exhibitions i.e. SIAL, Paris; Anuga, Colon; GulFood, Dubai; Big Seven, Johannesburg; Fruit Logistica, Berlin; World Food, Moscow; Halal Food Exhibition, Tehran etc.
Due to his hands-on experience with leading players from around the world in both his analytical and marketing capacities, he is also frequently called upon to contribute his wealth of experience to many knowledge based seminars and conferences. He has been continuously an active participant of the business panel discussions with food & beverage industries at international forums i.e. Asia Food Congress, Euro Food Congress, World Juice, Middle East Congress. He had been a member of the business contingents and governmental delegations visiting Russia, Ukraine, Germany, Poland, UK, Hong Kong, Netherland, France, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Thailand etc. As the admiration of his untiring efforts for the development of horticulture sector in Pakistan he was elected as Chairman of Pakistan Fruit & Vegetable Exporters, Importers and Merchants Association (PVFA) in 2009 for one year and was re-elected in 2012. He has been the director of Pakistan Horticulture Development & Export Company (PHDEB) and member of Export Development Fund, Ministry of Commerce, Government of Pakistan. He also plays a pivotal role in Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) committees on agriculture sector and serving as Director, Pak-Russia Business Council of FPCCI and Director, Pak-Ukraine Business Council of FPCCI. His visionary leadership converted IAC into a diversified business leader entrepreneur with the scope broadened from fresh fruit and vegetable handling to processing of fruit pulp/puree by installing state-of-the-art fruit processing unit in 2004 at Karachi, which was further expanded to the capability of multi fruit processing, installed in 2008 for clarified juice concentrate production.
PAGE: Could you tell about the meeting held by the Special Committee of National Assembly (NA) on Agriculture Products?
Waheed Ahmed: The Special Committee of National Assembly (NA) on Agriculture Products held a meeting under the leadership of the Speaker NA, Mr. Asad Qaiser. The meeting was attended by Mr. Asad Umer (Minister for Planning), Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Shah Mahmood Qureshi) & Federal Minister of National Food Security & Research (Mr. Fakhar Imam), Minister for Aviation (Mr. Ghulam Sarwar Khan), Ms. Famida Mirza, Opposition Leader Mr. Naveed Qamar, CEO-PIA (Air Commodore Arshad Malik) & Federal Secretaries.
I as the Patron-in-Chief of PFVA participated in this meeting through a video conference and apprised the participants of the barriers hindering export of mangoes. I thanked the participants as well as the Chairman of the Special Committee for including issues on export of mangoes as part of agenda of this meeting and patient hearing to the problem of mango exporters. I informed that due to opening of Pak-Iran border for only thrice a week and that too for a limited duration, the export of mangoes to Iran is in real jeopardy. The limited numbers of trucks, which come from Iran to Pakistan are utilized for exporting mangoes to Iran, which is far less than the demand of mangoes in Iran. Similarly, the participants were briefed about issues being encountered in export of mango by air and problems experienced with the National Carrier (PIA) due to inadequate facilities and high freight charges. The participants, keeping in view the current poor state of economy and likely huge financial losses to the agriculture sector, assured to render all possible support in resolution of the problems confronted by our Association in export of mangoes. The federal ministers extended firm assurances that they would spare no efforts for enhancement of exports and further growth of the agriculture sector through close co-ordination among the concerned Ministries and Departments.
During the meeting it was unanimously agreed that the number of days per week as well as duration for each day would be extended for export of mangoes to Iran and the number of trucks coming from Iran to Pakistan would also be multiplied. The Committee also instructed the national carrier to extend cooperation and support to the mango exporters.
Speaking on the occasion, I told that by increasing the share of PIA in export volume of mangoes, the valuable foreign exchange being paid to the foreign carriers as freight charges for export mangoes can also be saved and this saved amount would be translated into revenue generation for the national carrier. On the advice of the Committee, a meeting was scheduled between the mango exporters of the PFVA and a team of PIA led by the CEO, Mr. Arshad Malik. The Committee on Interior Affairs has been directed to send its recommendations on issues related to export of mangoes to Iran.
The special committee would send its recommendations to the Ministry of Interior for immediate action. The mango exporters of PFVA have been highly encouraged due to prompt and positive response from the Federal Ministers and the exporters would spare no efforts whatsoever on their part not only to meet the export target of 80,000 metric ton but to exceed the target.
PAGE: Could you tell about the major obstacles in export of mangoes?
Waheed Ahmed: The major obstacles in export of mangoes have now been resolved making it easier to achieve the export target of 80,000 metric tons during the current season. The Federal Government has opened borders of Afghanistan and Iran for export mangoes and vegetables giving priority to the trucks carrying these perishable items while the national carrier has also announced concessional air freight charges for the export of mangoes. The burning issues of export of mangoes via land route through Pak-Iran borders and high air freight charges by the national carrier were highlighted effectively. These issues had assumed state of turmoil for the growers as well exporters due to negative impact on export of mangoes caused by the coronavirus pandemic and resulting strict lockdown in the country while the mangoes export consignments worth of millions of USD started getting spoiled due to in-ordinate delay in opening of the border. On other hand, the exporters were also encountering problems in export of mangoes due to high freight cost by the foreign carriers.
The Special Committee of the National Assembly (NA) on Agriculture Products paid specific attention to these issues and requested to convene an urgent session for addressing these issues of prime importance. During the session all concerned Federal Ministers & Secretaries displaying great team spirit fully focused their attention on these issues and within a short span of three days they managed to resolve the issues. The chairman of the Special Committee, speaker NA Assad Qaiser, Federal Ministers Shah Mahmood Quershi, Fakhar Imam, Ghulam Sarwar Khan and Advisor to PM on Commerce Razzak Dawood evaluated these issues very seriously and with excellent coordination and cooperation among the concerned ministries and departments resolved the issues just in three days and thus the vibrant and vigilant team of the Primer safeguarding the national interest deserves appreciation for such a stunning action.
The history is unable to produce any example from the past when the trade issues of national interest may have been resolved so expeditiously. The CEO PIA Air Marshal (Retd) Arshad Malik also participated in this special session and as per directive of committee flew all the way from Islamabad to Karachi to have an urgent meeting with a delegation of the exporters of the PFVA and amicably resolved the issue of high freight charges by the national carrier. The prompt and timely decisions taken by the political leadership would provide great relief to the exporters as well millions of laborers associated with this sector during the time of this economic crises due to COVID-19 while the people of Balochistan, in particular would be greatly benefitted due to creation of ample opportunities resulting because of opening of Pak-Iran border.
The Ministry of Commerce has also issued notification for the Taftan border to remain opened for seven days a week. With approval of Command & Control Centre after notification from the Ministry of Interior, the Taftan border has now been opened for trade and thus the standstill export of mangoes has now commenced. The notification issued by the MoC states that there would be no restriction on the number of trucks carrying trade cargo from either side of the border. The trade cargo especially mangoes and vegetables would be cleared on priority basis. The MoC has issued directive to the FBR that for the smooth export of mangoes, the exporters NLC, FC and the Iranian custom officials shall establish an office with mutual cooperation and in absence of any cold storage facility at the border, the export shipments of mangoes destined to Iran must be cleared without any delay.
The national carrier has reduced its freight charges almost half in comparison to the foreign carriers charging for the UK, Europe, Doha, Muscat, UAE, Kuwait, Dammam, Madinah, Riyadh, Tokyo, Beijing & Kuala Lumpur. The national carrier would charge $2.5 per kg for UK against $3.4 per kg being charged by the foreign carrier. The freight cost for Europe has been also reduced to $2.5 per kg from $3.4 per kg, $1 from $1.3 per kg for Doha, $1 from $1.7/kg for Muscat, $1 from $2/kg for U.A.E, $1 from $2.45/kg for Kuwait & Dammam. Likewise, the national carrier freight charges would be $1.0 per kg for Madinah, Tokyo, Beijing and Kuala Lumpur against $2.45/kg being charged by the foreign carriers. The reduction in freight charges with assurance for provision of improved logistic facilities for smooth export of mangoes by the national carriers for various export destinations is result of the firm commitment made by the CEO-PIA along with his team during the recent meeting with the exporters of the PFVA.
With such attractive freight rates announced by PIA, it’s imperative to operate regular flights from Karachi, Lahore and Multan during the mango season. Should the PIA ensure to provide good service, it’s anticipated that 50% export volume of mango would be switched over to the national carrier. The PFVA on its part would give high priority to the national carrier for export of mangoes assisting the PIA in enhancement of its revenue by curtaining the freight charges paid to the foreign carriers in foreign currency while as a last resort the mango exporters of PFVA would avail services of the foreign carriers if load capacity of PIA gets exhausted. The reduction in freight charges by the national carrier would certainly create a healthy environment for completion leading to abolishment of monopoly by the foreign carriers.
I pay deep compliment to the Special Committee of NA on Agriculture Products on addressing and promptly resolving the issues being barriers to the export of mangoes with great national spirit which is a clear reflection of true commitment, dedication and devotion on part of each team member of the Prime Minister’s Imran Khan, struggling hard with extreme sincerity to serve the country and if this ‘high national spirit’ is maintained, the rate of growth and economy of the country, which has been badly impacted due to COVID- 19 would soon get out of this crises.