Using political influence : Mango orchards in Sindh being raided, PFVA raises alarm

By: Staff Report

LAHORE – Pakistan Muslim ...

KARACHI: In an unfortunate move, the armed gangs of Sindh, apparently enjoying political supports, have started occupying mango orchards, already booked by the country's leading exporters.

This surprising development is forcing the exporters to go pillar to post to seek help for saving their business.

Pakistan Fruit and Vegetable Exporters, Importers and Merchant Association (PFVA), which is the only body representing leading exporters of fruit and vegetables, has approached the federal government to immediately take notice of the development.

Through an urgent letter sent to Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP) Chief Executive S M Munir, PFVA Chairman Waheed Ahmed has requested the federal government to take notice of harassment of exporters by armed militants and vacate the orchard from the illegal occupants. He said the development in interior Sindh has risked not only the exports of mango in the coming season but also the business of horticulture products in the province.

Through the letter, the exporters have also informed the federal government about how the armed men, showing their association with political parties in Sindh, had harassed traders and workers at mango orchards and occupied the whole area.

According to the letter, a copy of which is available with this scribe, the leading and renowned exporters, wholesalers, packers and processors of fresh fruits, vegetables and manufacturers of value-added products fruits pulp/puree and clear juice concentrates of the country, working for more than 55 years, were unfortunately suffering from this development in Sindh for the first time.

A leading exporting firm, which procures mango every year from orchards to export them globally, had signed a legal contract with Akbar Rind and Babar Rind, owners of a mango orchard located at district Mirpur Khas, Naukot (Sindh) for a period of five years (2016 to 2020) for supply of mangoes. However, in view of the agreement, advance payment had been made to orchard's owners from year 2013 to 2014 of amount Rs 39,000,000, as per mutual understanding and business norms of mango orchards.

The owners of the orchard have suddenly dishonoured their contractual obligations without any reason while keeping the paid advance money for three years in their custody. The owners, by using force, were denying access to workers of the exporters in the mango orchard.

While the workers of exporting company were busy in the mango orchards for routine management chores, around a hundred armed people got into the orchard and kicked all of them out, while a contingent of police was posted in the orchard so as to prevent the workers from working further in the orchard.

Despite the registration of FIR in the local police station and informing the local high ups, the administration was unable to help the exporters due to political influence being exercised by the occupants.

Waheed Ahmed, through the letter, has requested the federal government and law enforcement agencies to take notice of these illegal practices by orchard owners using political parties names, adding that such practices would not only discourage business activities in the country but it would also stop investment in this sector. 

He said the exporters would not be able to meet export targets set by the government in the prevailing situation, which is shattering the confidence of businessmen in the country.