With a devastating monsoon hitting crops all over Pakistan, the government’s proposal to allow the import of vegetables from India seems to have been necessitated by the destruction of onion and tomato crops. Tomatoes are mainly produced in KP, while onions come from Sindh and Balochistan. Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and Balochistan, in particular, have been hit hard.
This has driven up the prices of perishable products in the domestic market to their highest-ever levels. Now, the government has allowed the import of tomatoes and onions from Afghanistan and Iran to meet a shortage in the domestic market. Imports from Iran are allowed for Balochistan. According to the sources, Indian-origin vegetables could also be sourced from Dubai to improve the supply situation in the domestic market in case Islamabad did not allow direct trade from India.
The Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) has issued two Statutory Regulatory Orders (SROs) for the import of onions and tomatoes.
To provide relief to the people, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has ordered to take immediate measures to maintain a steady supply of onions and tomatoes.
The measure taken by FBR will lead to a drop in the price of tomatoes and onions. FBR has issued these orders under the direction of the federal government, and imports of onions and tomatoes will be exempt from taxes and duties till 31 December 2022.
Controls on food prices
Yesterday, Punjab Chief Secretary Kamran Ali Afzal directed all deputy commissioners to take concrete steps to control prices of food items in the wake of rains and floods that had pushed rates up, besides keeping a close watch on the supply chain of vegetables, especially tomatoes and onions.
The chief secretary asked the officers to play an active role in stabilizing the prices of food items, especially vegetables and pulses. He said that the import of tomatoes and onions would be encouraged to minimize the gap between supply and demand.