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Indian Fruit ban is an opportunity for Pakistan

Kuwait's ban on fruits and vegetables imported from India would be beneficial for Pakistan.

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Kuwait’s ban on fruits and vegetables imported from India would be beneficial for Pakistan, a top official associated with the country’s trade and industry body said on Sunday. Waheed Ahmed, the vice president at the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FPCCI), explained that exports of fruits and vegetables from Pakistan to Kuwait would consequently double in volume now that the latter had banned the imports of the same from India owing to the outbreak of the Nipah virus.

Noting that the Nipah virus had, at present, affected two states in India, Ahmed reiterated the Kuwaiti Food Safety Review’s warning that the Nipah virus posed a risk to both humans and animals. Kuwait had earlier announced that it was implementing a ban on the imports of fruits and vegetables from India, according to a statement by its trade ministry.

The rare brain-damaging Nipah virus has killed 13 people in the southern Indian state of Kerala, the UAE noted on Tuesday.

A committee at the Public Authority for Food and Nutrition — the Kuwaiti food safety and regulatory authority — cited Nipah virus outbreak in India’s Kerala as the reason behind the latest decision taken by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry. Infections were spreading in India’s Kerala and other states in its south due to the Nipah virus outbreak, the Kuwaiti ministry said, adding that it posed a risk to both humans and animals.

Dr Mustafa Redha, the undersecretary of health, “affirmed that the ministry will take urgent precautionary health measures to prevent the outbreak of Nipah virus in the country after cases of infection were confirmed in the State of Kerala in South India”, website Indians in Kuwait reported. It said that an advisory had been issued to implement relevant precautionary measures at health facilities in Kuwait.

Read more: Pakistan saving Rs. 10 Billion by avoiding Indian tomatoes

Last week, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) had also imposed a ban on fruits and vegetables from Kerala, the Indian state, due to the same Nipah virus outbreak. The rare brain-damaging Nipah virus has killed 13 people in the southern Indian state of Kerala, the UAE noted on Tuesday.

The UAE’s Ministry of Climate Change and Environment (MoCCaE) also notified other local authorities, including the Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority (ADFCA) and the municipalities of its emirates, to prevent the entry of any fresh produce from Kerala, it had said in a statement.

Export of fruits from the country increased by 4.74 percent during first 10 months of the current fiscal year as compared to same period of the preceding fiscal year. The fruits export during the period under review rose to $358.23 million from $342.01 million in July-April 2016-17, according to latest data revealed by Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) Wednesday.

Waheed Ahmed, the vice president at the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FPCCI), explained that exports of fruits and vegetables from Pakistan to Kuwait would consequently double in volume now that the latter had banned the imports of the same from India owing to the outbreak of the Nipah virus.

On a year-on-year basis, the fruits export also witnessed an increase of 16.62 percent as it soared to $18.54 million in April 2018 from $15.89 million in the same month of last year. On monthly basis, however the export of fruits declined by 58 percent as $44.7m worth of export was recorded in March 2018.

On 20th May, A petition filed in the Supreme Court has sought to enforce an immediate ban on the export of fruits and vegetables as prices climb up during the Ramzan season.

Read more: 10 Interesting Fruit Facts

The Supreme court has been requested to order the secretaries of the cabinet division, trade and commerce in addition to the Competition Commission of Pakistan chairman to ensure affordable prices for citizens by imposing an export ban.  The petition was filed by Advocate Zulfikar Ahmed Bhutta.

Instead of relying on third parties, farmers should be able to directly sell their products to members of the public in the open market, the petition requests. The petition adds that a combination of poor policymaking, export of agricultural items and hoarding by certain groups has led to the price hike.

Article 3, 35 and 38 of the Constitution were being violated with a policy of favouring exports at the expense of citizens’ needs, said the petitioner. The government had previously been advised by the Competition Commission of Pakistan to create a monitoring commission which would have authority to decide import/export issues, maintain security buffer stocks to prevent supply shortages and maintain price levels.

Meetings are currently being held by the National Price Monitoring Committee to finalize price control systems for essential food items in Pakistan, the petitioner claimed.


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