Pakistan export Japan mangoes
Pakistan has started exporting mangoes to Japan in a major relief for mango growers in the country. Image Credit: Pakistan Embassy in Japan

Islamabad: Pakistan’s world-famous mangoes are more than just a national fruit. The fruit is an inherent part of culture, art, poetry and diplomacy. Keeping the tradition alive despite the challenges posed by the pandemic, Pakistan is sending the gift of its best mangoes to world leaders. Initially, heads of state of 17 friendly countries will soon receive the delicious gift.

Exports begin to Japan despite travel restraints

At the same time, Pakistan has started exporting its prized mangoes to Japan after temporary measures were announced by Tokyo to allow the shipment despite COVID-19 restrictions. Every year, it requires pre-clearance by Japanese inspectors who could not visit this year due to the pandemic travel restrictions.

Relief for exporters and growers

The move by Japan comes as a surprise for exporters and a huge relief for the mango growers who were not expecting export to Japan this year. This was made possible by the efforts of the Pakistan Embassy in Japan who approached the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry MAFF.

“We requested an inspection by Pakistani inspectors of Department of Plant Protection and were successful in getting a waiver of pre-shipment inspection for this season,” Tahir Cheema, Trade and Investment Counselor at the Embassy of Pakistan in Tokyo, told Gulf News.

Mango exports sweeten Pakistan-Japan ties

“Around 20 tons of Pakistani mangoes have arrived in Japan, and we expect to take the total to 150 tons this year,” he said. In 2019, the export reached a record high of 120 tons and mangoes “were favourably received in the Japanese market” according to the Japanese Embassy statement.

For now, Japan only allows two varieties of mangoes from Pakistan – Sindhri and Chaunsa – but Pakistan’s Trade Counselor said he has requested to add more varieties for the coming seasons to further sweeten Pakistan-Japan ties.

Pakistan has successfully shipped three mango shipments to Japan so far. Pakistan’s Ambassador to Japan, Imtiaz Ahmed, received the first consignment of mangoes along with businessman and mango exporter, Ramzan Siddique, and other embassy officials.

Pakistan aims to boost fruit export

Pakistan is also aiming to boost the export of other fruits to Tokyo. “We are pursuing request to get permission to export Pakistani kinnow (oranges) to Japan this winter for the first time,” Cheema told Gulf News. Pakistan’s sweet mangoes and flavourful oranges are among the most popular and cherished fruits worldwide.

Japan keen to import Basmati rice and mangoes from Pakistan

Last week, Ambassador of Japan Matsuda Kuninori held a meeting with Pakistan’s Minister for National Food Security and Research Syed Fakhar Imam and called for enhanced collaboration in the food and agriculture sector to boost bilateral trade. The Japanese Ambassador expressed interest in importing Pakistan’s Basmati rice and showed his fondness for Pakistani mangoes.

The minister thanked the Japanese envoy for facilitating the export of mangoes by exempting pre-clearance in the wake of COVID-19 outbreak and urged to allow access of other Pakistani fruits particularly citrus in Japanese markets. The Japanese government says it will continue to support Pakistan in the agricultural field such as measures against locust control, expanding export of agricultural products, and investment in the food-processing sector.