Exporters have rejected the government’s proposal to ban the export of fruits and vegetables, arguing that the move will significantly lower producers’ profits.
The Minister for Finance, Shaukat Tarin, has directed the Ministries of Commerce and National Food Security and Research to prohibit the export of tomatoes and onions for three months. However, the All Pakistan Fruits and Vegetable Exporters, Importers and Merchants Association informed the Adviser for Commerce and Investment, Abdul Razzaq Dawood, in a letter that it had not been consulted for the ban despite being an important stakeholder.
Similarly, the Sindh Abadgar Board held a meeting in Hyderabad and condemned the move.
The members of the board declared at the meeting that “any decision taken in this regard without understanding ground realities and taking stakeholders in confidence will not be beneficial for the long-term sustainability of agriculture or food security in Pakistan”.
Farmers also noted that the cost of production in Pakistan is one of the highest in the region, with surging prices of seed and fertilizer and the rising rates of other inputs like diesel and pesticides.
“Last year, onion import was open and export was stopped in October when onion was being harvested,” producers at the meeting said, and added that the prices of onions have dropped from “Rs. 45 at the farm gate to Rs. 8 per kilo”.
“Since there is no support price or incentive given in horticultural production (in Pakistan), there is no logic in halting exports,” the farmers added.
Unlike India, which moderates the cost of inputs and sets a minimum support price for agricultural products, Pakistan offers no such incentive.
The board emphasized the need to support agricultural exports, amid challenges such as a hike in freight charges and irrigation issues.
Farmers urged the government to address the irrigation limitations and to improve infrastructure and water governance, especially in District Qambar Shahdadkot, Taluka Khairpur Nathan Shah, and the other neighboring areas.
The attendees of the meeting also pointed out that Sindh is not being provided the same government subsidies on fertilisers and seeds as the other regions.
The meeting was presided over by Mahmood Nawaz Shah, and was attended by Syed Nadeem Shah, Dr. Bashir Nizamani, Aslam Mari, Imran Ali Bozdar, Abdul Khaliq Khoso, Ishaq Khan Mugheri, Arbab Ahasan, Wajid Ali Chandio, Murad Ali Shah Bukerai and others.