Citrus project in Pakistan

Lemons for sale in a Pakistani market
Lemons for sale in a Pakistan market. Citrus is a major fruit crop in Pakistan. An ACIAR project will benefit growers both there and in Australia.

Australian knowledge and expertise is being used to increase citrus production in Pakistan, with direct benefits for Australian growers. NSW Department of Primary Industries is the lead agency in a three-year Australia-Pakistan program managed by the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR).

Focusing on oranges and mandarins, a skilled team of specialists from Dareton, Griffith and Menangle aims to increase production by providing greater variety choice, improved orchard management techniques and more efficient use of inputs.

Citrus is one of the major fruit crops of Pakistan, where production has exceeded 167,000 tonnes. Around 80 per cent of Pakistan’s production is mandarins, predominantly Kinnow; Pakistan generates 95pc of the world’s Kinnow production. The country is an important global producer and, increasingly, exporter of Kinnow mandarins and the general industry knowledge from Pakistan will be valuable to Australian growers.

Most of Australia’s citrus industry is based on the production of sweet oranges, so mandarin plantings currently represent only seven per cent of total citrus plantings, the majority in Queensland. In the past 10 years the majority of new citrus cultivars introduced into Australia have been mandarin selections, and a national breeding program is already working on developing new mandarin cultivars for Australian conditions.

While there is widespread industry support and grower interest in the potential to diversify their current plantings to include more mandarins, the industry is also aiming to expand the production of blood orange. Therefore, the citrus work in Australia under the project will be the identification of potential blood orange production areas and development of facts sheets for mandarin and blood orange production.

Using the latest infrared camera technology, scientists at Dareton will also quality test for sugar content and dry matter in mandarin and oranges, including fruit from superior rootstock and other varieties. They will collect phenology information for mandarins, navel and blood orange which will directly benefit the citrus industry in Australia.

Citrus is one of the largest horticultural industries in Australia, supplying both domestic and export markets, with an estimated production of 722,000 tonnes in the 2006/07 season. This total includes the production of 102,000 tonnes of mandarin and 571,000 tonnes of oranges.