ISLAMABAD: Russia has warned Pakistan that it will ban rice imports again if their phytosanitary concerns are not addressed in future consignments.

The Federal Service for Veterinary and Phytosanitary Surveillance (FSVPS) of the Russian Federation issued a notification regarding violations of international and Russian phytosanitary requirements over a shipment of rice imported from Pakistan.

The notification, numbered FS-SA-3/6592 and dated April 2, 2024, highlights the presence of a quarantine organism, “Megaselia scalaris (Loew),” in the rice consignment.

The FSVPS has asked the plenipotentiary and trade representative at the Pakistani embassy in Russia for an immediate investigation into the matter.

A copy of the notice issued by the Russian authorities shows that the FSVPS has asked the relevant official in the Pakistani embassy to prevent such violations in the future and emphasised the importance of adhering to phytosanitary standards to ensure the safety of agricultural products traded between countries.

Meanwhile, the trade wing of Pakistani embassy in Moscow has forwarded the English translation of the Russian authority’s letter to the Department of Plant Protection (DPP) in the Ministry of Food Security and other relevant government offices.

The letter by the embassy to the DPP states, “In view of the above, it is requested that an investigation may be conducted immediately and the results of the investigation may please be shared with FSVPS in order to avoid any possible ban on rice exports in the future.”

Meanwhile, the FSVPS has also sent an official communication to the director of DPP, seeking a higher degree of cooperation in the field of plant quarantine.

Russia had previously imposed a ban on similar grounds in 2019, which remained in place for around two years. It was lifted after a series of negotiations between officials of both sides. Earlier, in December 2006, Russia also stopped the import of rice from Pakistan for not meeting food safety standards.

Published in Dawn, April 21st, 2024

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