Need for a national policy for
By: Ahmad Fraz Khan
the European Union banning citrus imports from India and
putting Pakistan on the warning list because of the fruit
University, Faisalabad, has taken up the gauntlet of
preparing a national policy on pests.
The stakeholders will
gather next week at the university to thrash out its
Such a policy has been
Now, the threat is that
the list of its affectees is expanding and, as fears are,
might damage exports of all fruits and vegetables.
If experience of some
successful countries is something to go by, the fruit fly
does not have one-time and on-site solutions;
It rather requires an
integrated and geographical solution because its host plants
grow almost in all four seasons and it affects almost entire
range of perishable fruits and vegetables from mango to
citrus to guava to gourd.
With such a wide range of
host plants, spread across the country and seasons, the
problem can only be dealt with an integrated policy
covering the entire areas round the year.
This reality could provide
the starting point for such a policy.
The international community
has demonstrated that over 80pc of fruit fly losses could be
controlled through better management practices.
On the next level, the policy must have two prongs; killing
the pest at source and risk management strategy throughout
the supply and export chain.
For killing the pest at
source, building human resource at the plant protection
departments and provincial extension services is the core
Unfortunately, both have been
weakest point in the production system.
It can also introduce
specialised extension service for horticultural products.
Pakistan has so far has limited its agricultural extension
service, to four main crops cotton, cane, rice and wheat.
Even that service leaves much
to be desired. Building a new service on a new concept is
required. Once in place, controlling the pest at farms must
be their responsibility.
Another priority area could
be to stop planting host plants (guava tops the list) in the
citrus and mango areas. Luckily, the country has cluster
zones for both fruits and weeding out host plants should not
be a problem for it.
Linking the farms to
exporters could also help; they could also take part of the
responsibility. All farms, which supply fruit to exporters,
should be monitored against these plants regularly.
The international community has demonstrated that over 80pc
of fruit fly losses could be controlled through better
management practices. This makes fruit fly more of a subject
of management rather than that of entomologists.
Pakistan citrus belt,
concentrated in the central Punjab, is decades-old and so is
the export process.
Normally, the farmers and exporters should have learnt to
control this, albeit ferocious, pest at least the
progressive and bigger ones. They outsource management of
their orchards to less trained, less aware and less
This sets off a process,
which then impacts all subsequent processes from
harvesting to grading, packing and export. The smaller
farmers lack awareness, training and, the most importantly,
resources to control the pest.
The second plank has to be risk mitigation. Only the
exporters, with proper paraphernalia of the treatment plants
and trained staff and packaging teams, should be allowed to
If the exporters want to make
money, they must invest in the first place.
They should be given full
standard operating procedures from farm to treatment to
exports with each stage requiring specific measures to
deal with the pest.
If killing the pest at
sources could be responsibility of the farmers and extension
workers, taking all mitigation measures has to be done by
the packers and the exporters.
The treated fruits should be
clearly marker and packed in different colours so that they
dont mix with the untreated ones, marring the entire