Pakistan's dates exports can be enhanced up to $200 million provided proper processing and packaging facilities are provided to the farmers, CEO Harvest Tradings and Member Export Committee, ICCI, Ahmad Jawad told the media.
"Since dates are perishable item , processing and packing facilities should be provided at farms to tap full potential and earn precious foreign exchange ", he said.
Jawad estimated date production per annum in Pakistan is around 536,000 tons, of which only 85,000 tons is exported and the rest is either consumed locally, or perishes for want of different facilities.
Since 1999, per acre yield of dates in the country has not increased so much whereas the worldwide production had increased by 165% during this period.
He said, date palm needs immediate attention from producers, exporters, government and even public and private creditors.
The production and export of dates percentage wise has been showing a decline over the long period, he said and added the government needs to pay urgent attention towards production, processing and quality enhancement, preservation, research and marketing facilities to save and ensure growth of this important source of foreign exchange for the nation
Due to the dearth of these facilities, dates are just dumped abroad at throwaway prices.
In addition, developed importers of date palm, as Germany, Denmark, and UAE, are re-exporting Pakistani dates, after quality enhancement and preparation of byproducts, at a price which is 5 to 6 times higher than their import price.
Other major importers of Pakistani dates include India, Nepal, US, UK, Afghanistan, and Canada.
Out of the 300 varieties of dates produced in Pakistan, Begam Jangi of Balochistan, Aseel of Sindh and Dhakki of Dera Ismail Khan are the varieties which are much sought the world over due to their exotic fantastic taste.