Pak-Iran barter trade in limbo

ISLAMABAD  - The much-debated Pak-Iran barter trade deal may be delayed.Federal secretary food security warned that the agreement on Pakistan-Iran barter trade deal could be delayed as Tehran viewed Pakistani wheat of low quality and Islamabad has reservations on the urea prices.The maiden meeting of the Standing Committee on National Food Security and Research, held here Tuesday, was chaired by member parliament Javed Iqbal Warriach.Federal Secretary National Food Security and Research Shafqat Hussain Naghmi informed the committee Iran has not so far determined the prices of urea and wanted the price of urea in cash. Citing Iran’s reservations that the Pakistani wheat is of low quality, he told the committee that the barter deal could not be finalised so far.“Pakistan will export one million tons of wheat to Iran according to the international price and that is $275 per ton but we are waiting for Iran to fix the rate of urea which would be imported from Iran,” he added. Naghmi admitted that despite the ban 300 she-camels had been allowed to export to the United Arab Emirate (UAE) on the personal request of Sheik Muhammad.However, he informed the export of live animals was not banned and only those animals could be allowed to export which weren’t used for reproduction purposes. But animal health certificate is essential for its export.Officials informed the committee that 2,50000 live animals was set as export target of which only 15000 animals could be exported so far.Similarly, 2,50000 live animals was export target out of which 2, 23000 could be exported.Lawmaker and member of the committee Zafar Beg Bhittani advised the committee that the export of live animal should be banned in an attempt to cut the high prices of meat. He expressed reservation over exportable surplus of live animal assessment criteria of the Ministry of Food Security.Secretary National Food Security replied that the assessment criteria of exportable surplus animal is taken from country’s population and animal growth rate as the annual growth of animal was approximately 3.7pc whereas the population growth is 2.5 per cent. Briefing the committee on the seed certifications, the officials of relevant department informed 116 metric tons illegal seed had been confiscated during the year and 80 challans were issued through which Rs.1.4m had been collected on account of fee. The committee members were of the view that only penalties were not enough in this regard and there is need of strict action against those involved in the business of illegal seed certification. Earlier, in his briefing to the committee on the achievements of the Ministry, Naghmi said the wheat support price has been enhanced from Rs.950 to Rs.1050 per 40 kg for the current year crop and developed a National Action Plan for Zero Hunger Programme.He informed in the presence of Prime Minister a letter of Intent was signed between Ministry of National Food Security and Research and World Food Programme for donation of 0.5 million tons wheat to convert into high nutrition diets for vulnerable groups.

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