Horticulture Sector


Dr M. Ahsan Qureshi

Pakistan’s economy has faced significant challenges over the years, including inflation, energy shortages, and a widening trade deficit. However, the horticulture sector offers a glimmer of hope for Pakistan’s economic revival. The horticulture sector has the potential to create employment opportunities, increase income for farmers, and earn foreign reserves for the country. Horticulture has long been an integral part of Pakistan’s agriculture sector, with a diverse range of crops grown across the country. However, despite its immense potential, the horticulture sector has not received the attention it deserves in terms of investment and policy support.
This has resulted in the sector being largely untapped, with significant untapped potential for growth and development. The horticulture sector employs over 6 million people and contributes over 12 per cent to Pakistan’s agriculture GDP. In 2020, Pakistan’s horticulture exports were worth approximately $610 million. However, this represents only a fraction of the potential market. There is significant untapped potential for exports of high-quality horticulture products, particularly to the Middle East and Europe, where there is a growing demand for fresh produce. In order to fully realize the potential of the horticulture sector, there is a need for investment in infrastructure, logistics, and research and development.
This includes investment in cold chain facilities, which can help preserve the quality of horticulture products during transportation and storage, and support for farmers in adopting new technologies and best practices for production and post-harvest handling. With the increasing global demand for fresh produce, there is an urgent need for Pakistan to tap into the potential of its horticulture sector. Horticulture products, such as fruits, vegetables, and flowers, have the potential to be a significant driver of economic growth and development in the country. Pakistan has a competitive advantage in producing high-value horticulture crops such as mangoes, citrus, and dates. These crops are in high demand in international markets, particularly in the Middle East, Europe, and North America. Entrepreneurs and investors can invest in the production, processing, and marketing of these crops, both for domestic consumption and export. Investing in organic farming practices and certification can help Pakistan tap into the growing demand for organic horticulture products in international markets. By producing high-quality organic horticulture products, Pakistan can earn premium prices and contribute to foreign reserves. Diversifying horticulture product portfolios can also help increase export earnings. Pakistan has the potential to produce a range of horticulture crops, such as avocados, pomegranates, and berries, which are in high demand in international markets.
There is a significant need for post-harvest management in Pakistan’s horticulture sector. Entrepreneurs and investors can invest in cold chain facilities, packaging, and storage solutions to improve the quality and shelf life of horticulture products. This can help reduce post-harvest losses, increase the quality of horticulture products, and contribute to export earnings. Developing horticulture value chains can create opportunities for entrepreneurs and investors to link farmers to markets, provide input and output services, and offer market information. Entrepreneurs can invest in building efficient and effective value chains that can create employment and income generation opportunities. Processing and value addition can increase the value of horticulture products and create opportunities for small and medium-sized enterprises. Entrepreneurs can invest in processing facilities for drying, canning, and juicing of horticulture products. This can help increase export earnings, create employment opportunities, and contribute to foreign reserves. Horticulture nurseries can supply high-quality planting materials to farmers and gardeners. Entrepreneurs can invest in the production and sale of high-quality seedlings, grafted plants, and other planting materials. Effective branding and marketing of horticulture products can increase their visibility and demand in international markets. By investing in branding and marketing initiatives, Pakistan can create a strong brand identity for its horticulture products, which can help increase export earnings and contribute to foreign reserves. Pakistan’s horticulture sector has the potential to be a major exporter of high-quality fruits and vegetables.
With the increasing demand for fresh produce in international markets, there is a significant opportunity for Pakistan to increase its export earnings by tapping into this market. However, this requires a concerted effort to improve the quality and standardization of horticulture products, as well as investment in infrastructure and logistics. Horticulture can also help build climate resilience in agriculture. Horticulture crops are often more adaptable to changing weather patterns and require less water than traditional crops. This makes horticulture an attractive option for farmers who are struggling with the impact of climate change on their crops. Finally, promoting horticulture can help improve the nutrition of Pakistan’s population. The consumption of fruits and vegetables is associated with a reduced risk of chronic diseases, such as obesity, heart disease, and diabetes. By increasing the availability and accessibility of horticulture products, Pakistan can improve the health of its population and reduce the burden of disease.
Horticulture has the potential to earn significant foreign reserves for Pakistan through exports and the diversification of its horticulture products portfolio. The country has the potential to produce a range of horticulture crops, such as avocados, pomegranates, and berries, which are in high demand in international markets. By investing in the production and marketing of these crops, Pakistan can increase its export earnings and contribute to foreign reserves. The government of Pakistan can promote the horticulture business for economic revival by taking the following steps:
Provide incentives and support for horticulture farmers: The government can provide incentives such as tax breaks, subsidies, and low-interest loans to horticulture farmers. This can help reduce the cost of production and increase the profitability of horticulture farming. Improve infrastructure: The government can invest in improving infrastructure such as roads, cold storage facilities, and processing units. This can help reduce post-harvest losses and increase the shelf life of horticulture products, making them more competitive in domestic and international markets. Enhance research and development: The government can invest in research and development to develop high-yielding, disease-resistant horticulture varieties. This can help increase productivity, reduce production costs, and enhance the quality of horticulture products. Facilitate market linkages: The government can help horticulture farmers access markets by facilitating market linkages and creating market information systems. This can help farmers sell their products at better prices and reduce the role of intermediaries in the value chain. Promote exports: The government can provide support for horticulture exports by streamlining export procedures, providing market intelligence, and negotiating trade agreements with other countries. This can help increase the foreign exchange earnings from horticulture exports and reduce the trade deficit. Capacity building: The government can provide training and capacity-building programs to horticulture farmers and stakeholders. This can help improve their skills and knowledge and enable them to adopt best practices in horticulture farming.
In conclusion, the horticulture sector has significant potential for growth and development in Pakistan. However, this requires a concerted effort to invest in infrastructure, research and development, and policy support. The government should work with private sector stakeholders to develop a comprehensive strategy for the development of the horticulture sector, which can help revive Pakistan’s economy and improve the livelihoods of its people.