Karachi, August 03, 2015 (PPI-OT): Director General of Department of Plant Protection, Dr. Mubarak Ahmed, while highlighting the significance of Food Safety, advised the business and industrial community of Karachi to urge the government for establishment of the vital Food Safety Regulatory Authority.
A Bill for setting up Federal Food Safety Regulatory Authority was drafted long time ago but no progress was taking place in this regard so the business community should raise voice for setting up this authority which, if established, would enhance Pakistan’s market access to international markets through export of quality agriculture products, he said while exchanging view at a meeting during his visit to the Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI).
“Pakistan holds highest number of patients suffering from diabetes and cancer mainly due to lack of food control”, he added. President KCCI Iftikhar Ahmed Vohra, Vice President KCCI Agha Shahab Ahmed Khan, Former Presidents KCCI Haroon Agar and Majyd Aziz along with KCCI Managing Committee members and a number of traders dealing in commodities were present at the meeting.
During the meeting, a special committee comprising Vice President KCCI Agha Shahab Ahmed Khan, Former President KCCI Haroon Agar and Anis Majeed was formed to examine the issues being faced by traders in dealing with the Department of Plant Protection and forward the same to the Director General in order to get them resolved at the earliest with a view to save traders from suffering losses and minimize their grievances.
Dr. Mubarak Ahmed stated that he has always been pursuing a pro-trade approach because of his keenness to enhance Pakistan’s trade. Imports and exports around the work are backed up by Research and Development (R and D) but unfortunately no R and D was taking place in case of Pakistan’s imports and exports which was a serious issue and requires attention.
Defending the operations of the Department of Plant Protection, he said that the department was currently going through transition and the operation of Plant Protection Department was being streamlined in efforts to deal with deficiencies. “There are good and bad players in the market but we will never allow the bad players to play with lives of the masses by importing substandard and unhygienic commodities into the Pakistani markets”, he added.
He said that clearing agents were also responsible for delays in clearance of consignments who even demand charges to be paid to Department of Plant Protection. These clearing agents are deceiving the traders as the department never takes any charges for its services, he added.
Commenting on exports of fruits and vegetables to European Union, Dr. Mubarak said that keeping in view the highest number of interceptions of Pakistani mangoes being exported to European Union and a warning issued by EU to ban mango imports from Pakistan as done in case of India if five more interceptions occurred, the Department of Plant Protection took up this issue very seriously last year and efforts were made to ensure export of high quality mangoes to EU. Consequently, EU’s interceptions were reduced drastically which can be gauged from the fact that not a single interception occurred last year while only three interceptions happened in 2015.
“Within a short span of just one year, the number of hot water treatment plant has been increased from just one to 29 hot water treatment plants, of which 8 hot water treatment plants are situated in Karachi and it has become a very lucrative business which helped in doubling the mango exports to Europe”, Dr. Mubarak said, adding that similarly not a single interception was reported in case of vegetable exports to European Union in 2015.
He said that a win-win situation has been created for everyone as Pakistan’s exports were rising, setting up hot water treatment plants has become a profitable business and registered Mango and Citrus Fruits farms were getting premium values of their production. Speaking on the occasion, President KCCI Iftikhar Ahmed Vohra, while touching upon various issues, particularly pointed out that the HS Codes for pulses were not reflecting in the trade policy which creates confusion and results in intensifying problems being faced by the concerned traders.
President KCCI stressed the need to devise a clear system while the workforce of Plant Protection Department must also be enhanced in order to speed up the process and minimize the grievances being faced by business community. He further advised that the department must carry out the required testing and examination of commodities but they should refrain from undue examination and the consignments of credible businessmen, who have been regularly imported high-quality products from reliable suppliers, should be partially examined and cleared at the earliest.
Former President KCCI, Haroon Agar, while expressing deep concern over smuggling of various commodities, stated that the department of Plant Protection was making efforts to intercept sub-standard commodities but all their efforts go wasted when many commodities particularly the sub-standard and life-threatening beetle-nuts, enter into the Pakistani markets via smuggling. He urged the government to take stringent measures to stop cross-border smuggling of beetle-nuts and other hazardous commodities which pose threat to lives of the masses.
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