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KARACHI: Chairman Businessmen Group (BMG) Zubair Motiwala and President Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) Muhammad Idrees have appealed the government to immediately allow imports of raw cotton and food items including vegetables, fruits, grains and other essential products from India through Wagah border as Pakistan faces severe shortages of all these products because of the devastation caused by flashfloods which completely washed away all the agricultural crops.

Chairman BMG Zubair Motiwala pointed out that in addition to the devastation caused and losses of up to billions of rupees suffered, food crises have also triggered as the agricultural crops, livestock and agricultural land have been completely damaged and remain inundated to date.

“As raw cotton, dates, chillies, cauliflower, onions, and other fruits and vegetables in Sindh and Balochistan have been destroyed, therefore, it has become inevitable to open up the Wagha border and allow imports of agricultural crops from India so that our country’s food needs and also the industry’s agricultural input requirements could immediately be surmounted by importing food supplies within the shortest possible time at competitive rates from our neighboring country,” he added.

He stressed that the government has to act promptly and sensibly in this regard to avert food crises as according to estimates, 65 percent of Pakistan’s main food crops including 80 percent of its wheat, rice and raw cotton etc. have been completely swept away during floods, and more than 3 million livestock have also died.

“In this scenario, the wisest move would be to go for importing all these products from India with lower logistic cost and time instead of other countries with heavy logistics expenses and a lot of time. Importing from India will have a bearable impact on the country’s balance of payment as compared to others hence, the lawmakers must take this important step in the larger interest of the country,” he said.

Chairman BMG warned that Pakistan’s recovery from the damages caused to the agricultural crops could take several months and if the raw cotton imports from India were not allowed on time, the textile exports would go down due to lower production as raw cotton was the basic and most important raw material of textile production. “Reduced textile exports would worsen the situation for the already ailing and overburdened economy.”

President KCCI Muhammad Idrees stated that Pakistan heavily relies on the local production of agricultural products but now it was obvious that wheat, rice, raw cotton, grains and vegetables etc. have to be imported so it was better to import from India which produces plenty of these agricultural products and also the livestock.

He was of the opinion that the prices of vegetables and other commodities have risen sharply in the local markets, making them unaffordable and beyond the reach of poor segment of society hence, the government without wasting any time must immediately allow agricultural imports from India so that prices could stabilise and the countrymen could be saved from hunger and starvation.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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