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Export of onion facing worries amid bumper crop

Export of onion facing worries amid bumper crop

Interview with Mr. Waheed Ahmed — Patron-in-chief Pakistan Fruit & Vegetable Exporters, Importers and Merchants Association (PVFA)

[box type=”shadow” align=”” class=”” width=””]Profile:

Current Responsibilities:

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)

Previous Responsibilities:

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] (2015-2016)

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, Govt. of Pakistan (2012- 2013) (2015-2016)

Director: Pak Russia Business Council of FPCCI (2013-2014)

Director: Pak Ukraine Business Council of FPCCI (2012-2014)

Manager Marketing: Iftekhar Ahmed & Co. (2001-2004)

Chairman: All Pakistan Fruit & Vegetable, Exporters, Importers & Merchant Association (2009-2010) & (2012-2013)

Director: Pakistan Horticulture Development and Export Company (Semi Government) (2012 – 2013)

Executive Member: Federation Of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FPCCI) (2011-012)

Member Advisory Committee: Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP) (2009-2010)

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; Gul Food, Dubai; Big Seven, Johns berg; Fruit Logistica, Berlin; World Food, Moscow; Halal Food Exhibition, Tehr an 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 Chamber of Commerce and Industries (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.[/box]

PAKISTAN & GULF ECONOMIST sought perspective of Mr Waheed Ahmed, Patron-in-chief PVFA regarding the export of onion and Pakistan Pavilion in Dubai Expo 2020. Following are the excerpts of the conversation:

Despite bumper crop of onion this year, it appears to be an uphill task to attain the export target of onion due to barriers namely — high export value of USD 400 per metric ton set by the Government and exorbitantly high freight charges by the shipping companies. All Pakistan Fruit & Vegetable Exporters, Importers & Merchants Association (PFVA) has sent urgent letters to the Ministry of Commerce (MoC) and Ministry of National Food Security & Research (MNFSR) in this context. It is stated in the letters that following bumper crop of onion, the price of onion has slashed to Rs.20 per kg in the local market, and despite surplus production, the export of onion is encountering difficulties to take advantage of this surplus volume.

We have requested the GoP to reduce the export value of onion to USD 300 per metric ton in accordance with ground realities against the unrealistic high value of USD 400/ton set by the GoP. On the other hand, acute shortage of reefer containers and exorbitant high freight charges by the shipping companies is most likely to jeopardize the strong desire of the PFVA to enhance export of onion by taking advantage of the current bumper crop of onion.

If the country experiences shortage of onion leading to increase in price in the local market, the PFVA would certainly play its role effectively by suspending export of onion so as to stabilize the price of onion, as it had done in the past to stabilize the price of onion in a similar situation.

Currently 150 to 175 trucks of onion are arriving in the local fruits & vegetable market of Karachi (01 truck = 12 tons of onion) per day which is going to further multiply in days to follow thus exceeding much beyond the local demand and hence the current price is likely to further drop significantly and if the export is not facilitated by removal of the barriers, the growers as well exporters would sustain high financial losses.

If the export of onion drops or may be stopped by the exporters due to the factors stated above, the growers of onion are likely to suffer the most as they may be unable to recover cost of harvesting, let alone make the thinnest profit and growers would naturally switch over to some other crops paying rich dividend of their strenuous efforts. It would then lead to an acute shortage of onions next year and the GoP may not have any other option but to import onion which would have a negative impact on our foreign currency reserves.

It is imperative to bring down the export value of onion to USD 300/ton being realistic and according to the ground realities, conduct strict check & balance of the shipping companies “demanding” high freight charges according to their “sweet wishes” and the acute shortage of reefer containers be seriously addressed and resolved should we desire to attain the export target of onion this year.

It was an honor to visit Dubai Expo 2020 to represent Pakistan and Government of Punjab to share the interactive presentation on an important topic that includes the insight of Pakistan’s fruit and vegetable export as well as the on-going investment and its growing market. Also I have talked about the vast streamlined opportunities that were the center of attraction for the presentation. Such a beautiful Pakistan Pavilion has been displayed in the Expo 2020, and the credit goes to Pakistan’s Government, Commerce Ministry & Embassy of Pakistan Abu Dhabi for arranging a spectacular event. It was worth every while.

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