Entering the European market is just the beginning for these mango farmers. In 2010, partner farms sent three air shipments to the United States — the first mangoes to be exported from Pakistan to the United States. The U.S. Department of Agriculture and the government of Pakistan spearheaded the shipments, and FIRMS provided the necessary equipment and expertise. The positive initial response to their mangoes promises much bigger sales in the immediate future. Indeed, SolFruit, a large European fruit importer, placed an order for 600 to 1,200 tons of mangoes for 2012.
Program interventions and achievements that culminated in these impressive sales figures and exports include:
Workforce development. Because workforce development is critical to ensure a high-quality mango supply and enhance productivity, FIRMS delivered training and capacity building for farmers and extension workers. As of March 2012, 2,553 farmers and farm workers, including exporters and extension workers, have received training in pre- and post-harvest orchard management.
GLOBALG.A.P. certification. Before FIRMS, Pakistan had only five mango orchards with GLOBALG.A.P certification and much of the country’s supply of high-quality mangoes could not meet the demands of international buyers. As of March 2012, the project has helped 15 farms achieve certification through training programs (11 in the first year and four in the second). Another 11 farms will get certified in the third year, bringing the total GLOBALG.A.P-certified farms to 31.
Building infrastructure. Before the program, exports were not being delivered to higher-end international markets via cost-effective sea shipments because mango farms lacked on-farm refrigeration and packing infrastructure. The Mango MUAVAN’s on-farm infrastructure development program is a cost-sharing arrangement between the farmers and FIRMS. Each farmer was responsible for building a pack house with related civil works on his or her farm to house the equipment and machinery to be supplied by the project. The project then provided harvesting baskets, de-sapping equipment, a mango processing line, a blast chiller and cold storage, ripening unit, standby electricity generator, and a water filtration plant at each facility.
The program has also started working with other mango products to increase sales for farmers. In 2010, FIRMS arranged the first sample shipment of dried mangoes to the United States. By the 2012 season, the project will have established four dried mango facilities in Pakistan, each capable of making commercial shipments of export-quality dried mangoes — another first in the sector’s history.
The Mango MUAVAN Program has been instrumental in enabling growers to produce high-quality mangoes that are exportable by sea to high-value markets.