KARACHI: In wake of water shortage in the country, the government is contemplating to import 20,000 tons of cotton from Afghanistan to meet scarcity of the commodity for the textile sector’s major input.
According to officials, the government is considering importing 20,000 tons of cotton from Afghanistan’s southern region, reported The News.
The cotton will be imported in sealed containers and checked for phytosanitary and sanitary standards, said, officials.
The officials shared a delegation from the Department of Plant Protection and Ministry of National Food Security and Research would pay a visit to Afghanistan for pest risk analysis.
And per a report presented to the cabinet, cotton production remained static since 1991/92 vacillating in the range of 1 to 12 million bales.
By 2015-16, the country cotton production had fallen to 9.9 million bales and the annual consumption needs are projected at 15 million bales.
Formerly, Afghanistan had shown interest in getting access to the Pakistani market for its cotton. And officials stated it was interested in using Torkham and Chaman border crossings to save cost and time for Afghan exporters as well as local importers.
Now cotton import is only allowed through Karachi port as per Plant Quarantine Rules 1967 and Pakistan Plant Quarantine Act 1976.
The official added Afghan commerce ministry will be providing the information on cotton production and share it with its Pakistani counterparts.
The authorities are said to have started a pre-consultative process with the appropriate stakeholders which include the Ministry of National Food Security, cotton associations and customs department.
To encourage the growth of cotton, the authorities have banned cotton imports for farmers to be able to fetch an attractive price because the production of the commodity has fallen dramatically in last four years.
On pressure from the textile sector, the government had permitted duty-free import of cotton from India which had dented commodity growers here in Pakistan and benefitted Indian farmers who exported a major quantity of cotton.
In 2017, Pakistan permitted restart of cotton imports from India which exported 0.5 to 2.8 million bales previously.