A barter trade arrangement between Pakistan and Iran has hit a stumbling block before it could take off, as Iran has declared that Pakistan’s wheat is of low quality and has asked it to pay cash for urea supply instead of wheat.
Briefing a meeting of the National Assembly Standing Committee on National Food Security and Research chaired by Javed Iqbal Warraich here on Tuesday, Food Security Secretary Shafqat Hussain Naghmi said that Iran described Pakistan’s wheat as of low quality infected with some diseases and did not set the price of urea. “Iran also wants cash payments for urea supply,” he said.
Naghmi said agreement on barter trade with Iran could be delayed as the urea price issue had not yet been resolved.
“Pakistan aims to export one million tons of wheat to Iran at an international price of $275 per ton, but we are still waiting for fixing the price of urea which Iran will export to Pakistan,” he added.
Camels exported despite ban
The secretary confirmed that despite a ban in place, 300 female camels were allowed to be exported to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on the personal request of Sheikh Muhammad, the ruler of Dubai.
“Export of live animals is not banned, but only those animals can be allowed to be exported which are not used for breeding,” he said, adding health certificate was also essential for animal export.
He told the panel that the government had set an export target of 250,000 live animals, but only 15,000 could be exported so far in 2011-12.
In 2010-11, 223,000 live animals were exported compared to the target of 250,000.
Committee member Zafar Beg Bhittani proposed that the export of live animals should be banned in order to bring down prices of meat in the domestic market.
Discussing seed certification, the committee members pointed out that 116 tons of illegal seeds had been confiscated and 80 challans issued.
Penalties were not enough and strict action should be taken against those involved in the business of illegal seed certification, they argued.
In a bid to improve the lot of farmers as well as fight hunger, Naghmi said, wheat support price was enhanced from Rs950 to Rs1,050 per 40 kg for the current season and a national action plan for the Zero Hunger Programme was also developed.
He said the Ministry of National Food Security and Research and the World Food Programme (WFP) had signed a letter of intent for donating 500,000 tons of wheat to convert it into high-nutrition diets for vulnerable groups.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 16th, 2012.