Govt allows immediate import of onions, tomatoes

Govt may consider lifting ban on import from India to avoid prevailing crisis

ISLAMABAD:  Federal government on Monday in view of massive damage to agriculture following the current devastating floods has allowed immediate import of major agricultural commodities mainly onion and tomato.

According to sources, during an urgent meeting held at the ministry of commerce to review the availability of agro commodities, prices and import options, it was decided to import two largely consumed agricultural products to meet the anticipated shortages in Pakistan.

Soon after disruption in supply after the floods in Pakistan, the prices of vegetables and fruits have skyrocketed and further hikes in prices are being expected.

The meeting, chaired by federal secretary of commerce Saleh Farooqi, was attended by senior officials of the Ministry of National Food Security and Research, FBR and other stakeholders. Diplomatic representatives of Iran, Turkey and Afghanistan also participated in the meeting.

During the meeting the representatives of Pakistan Fruit and Vegetable Importers Exporters Merchants Association (PFVA) have proposed immediate abolition of duties and taxes on the import of onions and tomatoes for at least a period of three months. The importers see exemption of duties and taxes necessary to stabilize the local market.

While keeping in view the cost of import from other countries, the association, according to Waheed Ahmed of PFVA, had proposed the government to import the vegetable items from India. However the government was reluctant to allow import from the neighboring country under the existing unfavorable bilateral relations.

According to importers, keeping the cost in view, import of the vegetables is only viable from India.

An insider informed this scribe that the officials of the commerce ministry would take up the case of import from India with higher authorities soon. The government may lift the ban on import from India to avoid the prevailing commodity crisis.

As per the officials, the process of importing the vegetable items would start from Tuesday (August 30, 2022) to ensure early availability of the commodities in the country.

During the meeting it was informed that more than 80% of the onion crop in Sindh has been destroyed due to floods. On the other hand tomato crops have also been severely damaged.

Earlier the onion crop in Baluchistan was also badly destroyed by torrential rains and floods. However, according to traders, other vegetable items including potato are luckily available in good stock.

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Ghulam Abbas
The writer is a member of the staff at the Islamabad Bureau. He can be reached at [email protected]

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