KARACHI: The Union of Small and Medium Enterprises (Unisame) has urged Federal Minister for Science and Technology Shibli Faraz to recommend export of Khaskhas (white poppy seeds without any further delay, as the SME farmers and exporters are losing opportunities in the global markets and suffering due to wrong policies, a statement said on Friday.
White poppy seeds are food grade and accredited as a culinary item in most countries of the world and sold on shelves and grocery shops without any restrictions.
Unisame president Zulfikar Thaver said that the Ministry of Science and Technology under its then minister Fawad Chaudhry was instrumental in wisely allowing export of hemp (bhang) and it was indeed a timely decision.
It would be wise if the Pakistan Standards and Quality Control Authority (PSQCA) is directed to immediately examine on merit the matter of Khaskhas and declare it as a food grade culinary item and recommend its export just like hemp.
India and Turkey are exporting the same to the international markets and Pakistan is losing business, he said, adding that the SME exporters are getting inquiries and importers usually buy from one source so because of refusal to export Khaskhas, they are losing other business of related items such as dry fruits and herbs, etc.
Zeeshan Nazim, convener of the Culinary Herbs and Roots Committee, said that if the government officially allowed hemp cannabis, which is a $280 billion market then why poppy seeds white food grade is being prohibited when it is so beneficial for human beings and have internationally trade revenue market of $789 billion.
This is a step-motherly treatment with the small farmers, as they cultivate around 2,000 tonnes of Khaskhas in Mohmand Agency, Dir. It is also being grown all along the Afghanistan/Pakistan border area and if export is allowed the production can be enhanced, which will improve the living standard of the underprivileged sector.
Masood Khan, convener of the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, said: “Every house has white poppy seeds food grade (Khaskhas) for use in food preparation recipes. Even in Saudi Arabia, it is imported from Turkey and sold in shops although for reasons best known to them, whereas Pakistani travellers are not permitted to carry it. Once the government allows its export the matter can be taken up with Saudi Arabia,” he added.
He also said: “White poppy seeds called Khaskhas are used in cuisine for thickness, texture and flavour. Commonly used in the preparation of Qorma, ground poppy seeds, along with coconut and other spices, are combined into a paste added during cooking.”
“White food grade poppy seeds are widely used in many regional cuisines. Poppy seeds, along with Tulsi (basil) seeds, are added to beverages such as thandai, sharbat, milkshakes, rose milk, almond milk and khus khus milk,” he said.
The Unisame Council has taken up the matter with the Ministry of Commerce, Ministry of Industries and Production and is confident that better sense will prevail and white poppy seeds, which is a food grade item will be recognised and the stigma of it being a drug will be removed.