Keeping in view the skyrocketing prices of vegetables, the Pakistan Fruit and Vegetable Importers Exporters Merchants Association (PFVA) on Monday called for immediate abolition of duties and taxes on the import of onions and tomatoes in Pakistan.
“More than 80% of the onion crop has been destroyed in Sindh due to floods,” PFVA Patron-in-Chief Waheed Ahmad told Business Recorder. “In addition, tomato crop has endured severe damage as well.”
He further cited that onion crop in Balochistan also took damage from the torrential rains and floods in the province.
“To meet the demand of onion and tomatoes in the country, we have to initiate import from India,” he added.
Ahmed also attended a meeting at the Ministry of Commerce held to review agricultural commodities on Monday.
Representing PFVA in the meeting, he urged the government to permit import of onions and tomatoes from India. However, the government has not paid heed to his request yet.
“We are yet to receive a green signal from the government to restart import from India,” Ahmed added.
The prices of vegetables and fruits have gone up significantly due to the flash floods in many parts of the country. For instance, tomatoes are being sold for Rs400-500 per kg while onions are available at Rs150-200 per kg.
It is estimated that 30 million have been directly affected by the floods, with most of them residing in the rural areas. Pakistan expects a hit of $10 billion to the economy due to flooding, according to Federal Minister for Finance and Revenue Miftah Ismail.
Meanwhile, to stabilise the supply of fruits and vegetables, importers have called for exemption of duties and taxes for a period of three months.
“It will at least take nearly three months for things in the horticulture sector to get back to normal,” Ahmad said. “Traders will begin ordering onions and tomatoes from other countries from Tuesday.”
Meanwhile, Miftah has also hinted that Pakistan would need to import food items from India to meet the domestic demand in the aftermath of the floods.