Promising China-Pak cooperation: Better roads to boost Pakistani guava industry

“Generally speaking, we earn around 2 to 5 Lac Rs per acre. Even better, now we have a new type called China Gola. Its high quality and good taste make us more money. Besides, export can double our incomes,” noted Saleem Ahmad Malik, a Guava farmer from Sharaqpur in district Sheikhupura.

Pakistani guava: challenges and opportunities coexist, as do hardships and hopes

Pakistan has ideal conditions for guava cultivation. According to Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Pakistan is amongst the top ten guava producing nations which enjoy a combination of warm, humid yet dry weather and a well-drained sandy loam. In addition, the abundance of organic content in the soil creates favorable conditions for the growth of various crops.

Pakistan grows high-quality guavas, which are exported to many countries, including UK, America, Afghanistan, Maldives, Oman, Qatar, UAE and China. Unique soil quality, temperature, and a long history of growing guava make Pakistani guava special in taste and aroma.

However, Pakistan’s guava production has been facing the problem of low yield and plant diseases and insect pests over the years.

As for plant diseases and insect pests, in Pakistan, the Department of Plant Protection records 20-50% of economic losses from diseases and pests. According to a report of Express Tribune, in December 2020, the output of guava was severely affected by insects due to which growers were suffering losses amounting to 60%-70% in and around Larkana district.

China-Pakistan cooperation have a bright future

Talking to China Economic Net, Chen Haojun, Senior Agronomist and Director of the Fruit Research Center at Guangxi Subtropical Crops Research Institute, pointed out that “Based on data of Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS), the average yield of guava in Pakistan was 9.03 tons per hectare in 2018. However, the yield of guava cultivated in our germplasm resource nursery can reach about 45-60 tons per hectare. Therefore, I think there is still a lot of room for improvement in the average output of guava in Pakistan.”

Just as the China Gola has brought benefits to Pakistani farmers, high-quality guava varieties and planting techniques will bring benefits to the development of Pakistan’s guava industry.

At present, the Guangxi Subtropical Crops Research Institute and the University of Agriculture Faisalabad (UAF), Pakistan are carrying out joint application for some related topics of guava germplasm resource exchange, molecular genetics, etc. “We’re in the initial stage of cooperation and Pakistan side has not provided us with guava germplasm resources, but we’re really happy and eager to introduce these fine varieties from Pakistan. If necessary, we are willing to provide our country’s advanced technologies to Pakistan, so that we can promote the sound development of the industry by learning from each other,” Chen shared his hopes for bright future.

In addition, Director Chen also gave his China-Pak cooperation plan in the aspects of pest control to increase guava production. According to Mian Shahzad Ahmed, a guava farm owner in Sharaqpur, the stings of a special “bee” may even cause the whole fruit to rot completely. The most important thing to control the “bee” (oriental fruit fly) is to bag the guava fruit during its growth period to avoid damage, Chen mentioned. This is also the most pragmatic and effective way that local farmers in Pakistan can take to ensure the fruit quality. “In China, it’s also the best way to guarantee the quality of commercial guava fruit. We can provide our technologies to them at any time.”

With the rapid development of China’s economy, the Chinese people are increasingly concerned about health preservation. Guava is an excellent healthy fruit with high iron and vitamin C content, but low sugar content. “For diabetic people, guava is an excellent nutritional supplement. At the same time, guava contains pomegranate polyphenols and anthocyanins, which has a strong antioxidant effect, so guava is also a good beauty product,” Chen Haojun expressed full confidence in the prospect of guava industry.

“Guava’s fresh fruit production period is relatively concentrated, so we can further develop guava deep-processed products, such as juice, preserved fruit, dried fruit, jam and so on. The cooperation of guava processing in Pakistan is an efficient and low-cost way. Chinese enterprises can process guava semi-finished products locally in Pakistan, saving the cost of long-distance cold chain transportation of fresh fruits. Then we can import semi-finished products to China for further processing into finished products. This is a win-win situation.”