In his blog post about summer, our Lahore Branch Manager, Ahmed, mentioned the importance of mangoes in Pakistan during the hot summer months. This got me thinking about what watermelon meant to me growing up during the summer, and it naturally conjured images of a little Ahmed sitting by a pool eating a mango and throwing the rinds at his siblings. When I started looking into Pakistan’s love of mangoes more closely however, I discovered the sweet fruit is much more to Pakistan than the summer treat present at every picnic. Available only during the summer, from May until September, mangoes are a symbol of the season for Pakistan, but they may also hold the key to international markets and increased trade, requisite tools in a globalized world.
Pakistan is the world’s third largest producer of mangoes and the fifth largest exporter. In fact, Pakistan is home to over 125 varieties of mango, which is known locally as the “king of fruits.” If you’re a casual mango consumer like me, you may need a moment to process the fact that there exist that many different varieties; what’s more all of them can be found in a single province of Pakistan called Sindh. The produce comes primarily from the province’s capital and Pakistan’s financial hub, Punjab. Sindh is the third largest of Pakistan’s 4 provinces and is located in the south eastern portion of the country in a tropical region enclosed by the Thar Desert to the east, the Kirthar Mountains to the west and the Arabian Sea to the south. Although the region receives a mere 7 inches of rainfall annually, the territory overcomes its relative scarcity through reliance on the Indus River, which inundates twice yearly by the melting of the Himalaya snows and monsoon seasons. While the majority of the region is arid, the Indus River Valley is wonderfully fertile and, thanks to irrigation, supports and wealth of fruit trees, including a unique variety of Mango called the Sindhri that has been deemed one of the tastiest in the world.
Mangoes are more than just a tasty fruit for Pakistan, they are an avenue to new international markets and increased agricultural trade. Punjab’s local government and the Sindh Board of Investment arrange Mango Festivals at home and abroad in order to open up new avenues of trade, both domestic and international, and to increase production in Sindh. This year’s festival in Punjab was held in July and hosted a myriad of Pakistani officials and mango growers. According to Punjab’s Chief Minister, Shahbaz Sharif, the hope of this and other festivals is to “give access to mango growers and exporters to international markets and also help introduce other agricultural items from Punjab to the world”. Pakistan has gained international exposure for their produce with a Mango festivals hosted in Doha in 2010, Beirut in 2011, and in Dubai in 2012.
Pakistan also reached out to European markets by showcasing their agriculture at the International Green Week in Berlin, Germany earlier this year. In 2011, the Pakistani consulate in Chicago threw a mango party to celebrate the first shipment of mangoes into the United States, a feat which Pakistani ambassador, Husain Haqqani called “a culmination of two years of strategic dialogue with the Americans”. America is the world’s largest importer of mangoes, and Pakistan is hopeful that the fruit may create new bonds between the two countries.
Pakistan has made great strides in introducing their produce to international markets, which could be vital to the nation’s ability to remain competitive. In our era of globalization and internationalization, trade is vital to the growth and prosperity of a nation. Mangoes are only the beginning for Pakistan; the country is home to a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, and they hope that with the growing popularity of their mangoes, that they will soon be able to introduce produce into the market and broaden Pakistan’s international trade.
So next time you sit down to beat the heat of summer with a cool mango smoothie, or maybe a scoop of delicious mango ice cream, consider for a moment that you may be sharing a fruit from the same tree as our friend, Ahmed.
Banner Photo: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:MangoOtatitlan_02.JPG Author: AlejandroLinaresGarcia
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Iba,Zambalesjf9268_05.JPG Author: Ramon FVelasquez
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Fruit_and_vegetable_market_Multan_No._2_Mar_06_(10697007505).jpg Author: Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade