NA Speaker sought concrete plan for boosting Pakistanâ€™s Food and Agricultural Trade
Thursday, 12th August, 2021
The Speaker National Assembly stated that Pakistan’s 0.3% market share in the $1.6 trillion global food and agricultural trade is not commensurate with country’s inherent agricultural potential. Endorsing his views, the Minister for National Food Security and Research Syed Fakhar Imam stated that improved compliance with international food safety and quality standards particularly the Sanitary and Phyto-Sanitary Standards was indispensable to Pakistan’s enduring quest for improved access to high end markets. The Speaker, while presiding a meeting of the National Assembly Special Committee on Agricultural Products, instructed the Sub-Committee, the Ministry of Commerce and the Ministry of National Food Security and Research to devise a coherent plan to boost Pakistan’s agri-exports and submit the report to the Committee within two weeks.
The Ministry of Commerce, Ministry of National Food Security & Research and the provincial agriculture departments briefed the Committee on Pakistan’s agricultural trade. The Committee was informed that Pakistan share in the global agricultural exports is 0.3 per cent. It was highlighted that Pakistan’s agricultural exports have grown by 2% during the last two fiscal years. The current tariff rationalization and free trade agreement with China would provide significant boost to agri-exports. The officials of the Ministry of Commerce revealed that the fish and fish preparations, fruits and vegetables and meat & meat preparation products are the priority sectors for export. The members of the Committee raised concerns regarding decline in rice exports and added that 1.9 million tons of rice is available in stock and arrival of the next crop without a backup plan to export existing stock would suppresses the prices in the domestic market leading to significant losses the farmers. The Speaker National Assembly directed the officials of the Ministry of Commerce to call all the stakeholders and devise a coherent strategy to export the existing stock of rice. Asad Qaiser sought report from the Ministry of Commerce within one month.
The Committee was informed that the Ministry of Commerce is steering pilot projects to transform Pakistan’s existing orchards to high density orchards for improved productivity and better market access. The members stated that Pakistani Agricultural Products would not be able to access high in markets without improved and strict compliance with global food standards particularly the sanitary and phyto-sanitary standards. It was stressed that without stringent regulation and certification of the nurseries, it would be futile to increase exports. The committee recommended that the Sub-Committee of the Special Committee on Agricultural Products should thoroughly examine the key obstacles, policy lacunas and institutional hurdles to increase Pakistan agricultural export.
The Committee also deliberated upon the concerns of the tobacco farmers and directed the Pakistan Tobacco Board to ensure that no stock is left unsold with the farmers. The Speaker urged the PTB and Ministry of National Food Security and Research to conduct a third party survey for determining the cost of production of tobacco. The tobacco companies and the PTB assured that no stock would be left unsold. The Committee urged cigarettes industry to facilitate the farmers and end their suffering through timely purchase and better profitability.
The Committee also directed the Ministry of Commerce to convene a joint meeting with the tobacco exporters and devise a plan to facilitate tobacco export to the regional countries and beyond.