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November 15, 2019

Limited tomato imports from Iran allowed

Top Story

November 15, 2019

ISLAMABAD: Owing to high price of tomato in Pakistani market that is being sold up to Rs300/kg (almost $2/kg), the government has allowed limited-time import of tomato from Iran that would reach Pakistan in next four days.

The government is also working on establishing public markets in cities to end the role of middle-man, as they were taking abnormal margins while the common man was suffering. Iranian tomato would cost Rs53/kg to reach Quetta, after giving permission to its import; the commodity would hit Pakistani market in next three to four days. Besides, this year’s estimates show that its production will be around 40,000 tons more than last year in Sindh.

Sindh province is going to harvest a bumper tomato crop, and it would start reaching the markets in next four weeks, Federal Minister for Food Security & Research, Sahibzada Muhammad Mehmood Sultan said this while addressing a news conference here Thursday.

It’s a seasonal shortage, as in this season the tomato supply from Balochistan ends while the Sindh’s crop takes a few weeks, so this interval between Balochistan and Sindh crop, the shortages emerges for almost a month.

The minister claimed that there is no shortage of wheat in the country, as around 27 million tons of wheat is available in the country.

The Sindh province where the flour price is high than other provinces, was due to the province’s no procurement during the season. The federal government has allowed releasing around 400,000 tons from Passco godowns to Sindh.

The Sindh government had committed with the federal government for procurement of 1.6 million tons of wheat during the season that ended in April, but, for the first time, it did not procure even a single grain.

Minister said that the price of 20kg flour bag is Rs810 in Lahore, Faisalabad, Multan and other cities of Punjab. In Peshawar it is Rs981/bag and Rs970 in Quetta, while in Karachi and Hyderabad its price is Rs1,113/bag.

As Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and Balochistan provinces are not wheat sufficient, so every year, the federal government provides them wheat. The central government has decided to release 450,000 tons of wheat to KP and 50,000 tons to Balochistan. With this releases, the flour price would come down, the minister said.

The provinces and federal government would bear its ‘incidental charges’ with equal ratio. The federal government would spend Rs1.6 billion to supply wheat to Sindh, Rs1.9 billion to KP and Rs211 million to Balochistan, while the respective provincial government would also bear the same amount for this activity.

He further said that after the federal government started release of wheat to provinces, the flour price has started reducing.

The prime minister has directed Pakistan Agriculture Storage & Services Corporation (Passco) to provide 200,000 tons of wheat to the Utility Stores Corporation of Pakistan (USC). The Premier has also directed the USC to ensure provision of five essential items, including wheat flour, Sugar, Ghee, pulses and rice at control rates in all over the country.

Regarding the rising price of roti [bread], he said that the government is already bearing Rs1 billion cost for provision of gas to tandoors at subsidised rates.

Talking about desert locust, minister said that after 30 years, this is the first time that this insect has attacked us. It is a migratory insect that has travelled from Yemen to Saudi Arabia-Iran-Sindh-Punjab and then to India. It is their migratory time, and from India it would gain come back from India to Sindh, Punjab and then Balochistan. After their reaching Balochistan, we are planning to do aerial spray; however, this insect cannot be completely killed.

To a question that why the government has increased wheat support price of only Rs50 by determining its price at Rs1,350/40kg, minister replied that he is a grower and would like to increase it to 1,600 rupees, but keeping in view the common man, we after five years have increased it by Rs50.

Muhammad Hashim Popalzai, Federal Secretary for Food Security & Research said that it is a routine seasonal span (October-November), when shortage of vegetables emerges almost every year. He claimed that in first week of December, the supply of tomato and onion would get start from Sindh.