Qaiser calls for coherent plan to boost farm exports

Published August 13, 2021
This file photo shows National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser. ─ DawnNewsTV/File
This file photo shows National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser. ─ DawnNewsTV/File

ISLAMABAD: National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser has said that Pakistan’s 0.3 per cent market share in the $1.6 trillion global food and agricultural trade is not commensurate with the country’s inherent agricultural potential.

Presiding over a meeting of the National Assembly Special Committee on Agricultural Products on Thursday, Mr Qaiser instructed the sub-committee, Ministry of Commerce (MoC) and the Ministry of National Food Security & Research (MNFSR) to devise a coherent plan to boost Pakistan’s agricultural exports and submit the report to the committee within two weeks.

Minister for National Food Security and Research Syed Fakhr Imam endorsed the views of the NA speaker and said that improved compliance with international food safety and quality standards — particularly the sanitary and phyto-sanitary (SPS) protocols — were indispensable to Pakistan’s enduring quest for improved access to high end markets.

The MoC, MNFSR 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 0.3pc while the country’s agricultural exports have grown by 2pc during the last two fiscal years. The current tariff rationalisation and free trade agreement with China would provide significant boost to agri-exports, the committee was informed.

NA panel was informed Pakistan’s share in global agri exports stands at 0.3pc

The MoC officials briefed that fish and fish preparations, fruits, vegetables and meat and meat preparation products were priority sectors for export. The committee members raised concerns regarding decline in rice exports. 1.9 million tonnes 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, they members opined.

The NA speaker directed the commerce ministry officials to call all the stakeholders and devise a coherent strategy to export the existing stock of rice. He also sought a report from the ministry within one month.

The committee was informed that the commerce ministry was steering pilot projects to transform Pakistan’s existing orchards to high density orchards for improved productivity and better market access. The committee 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 SPS 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 Pakistan Tobacco Board (PTB) to ensure that no stock is left unsold with the farmers. The NA speaker urged the PTB and MNFSR 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 commerce ministry to convene a joint meeting with the tobacco exporters and devise a plan to facilitate tobacco export to the regional countries and beyond.

Published in Dawn, August 13th, 2021

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