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Imported oilseeds critical to Pakistan’s food security worth hundreds of millions of dollars are currently stuck at Port Qasim in Karachi pending the issuance of a certificate from the ministry of climate change.
The APSEA (All Pakistan Solvent Extractors’ Association) patron-in-chief, Shehzad Ali Khan while briefing the National Assembly Standing Committee on National Food Security meeting, said that they are importing oil seed and its powder used in poultry feed. “We are importing soyabean seeds since 2015, he said.” Currently, the two shipments at Port Qasim are worth $100 million while at least five more vessels with seeds worth $300 million more are on their way. It is worth noting that the seeds have already been paid for, which means the hold-up will not affect the country exporting but will affect the supply of these seeds within Pakistan, and may eventually have an impact on oil prices. The requirement for a certificate from the climate change ministry had been introduced four years ago, and importers had applied for the certificates back then. Because GMOs and the introduction of seeds into agriculture falls under environmental protection and is a key element of the country’s biosafety, the ministry of climate change is supposed to have oversight over such imports. However, issuance of the certificates fell prey to bureaucratic red-taping and an arrangement was made on a temporary basis to continue the import of oilseeds until the certificates could be issued. This year, however, it seems the ministry has decided to finally implement the requirement. According to both the importers and industry associations, the requirement has never been implemented before, and that the application has been submitted to the ministry for more than four years. “Stopping the consignment without prior notice or intimation are posting huge losses to the importers. “We are paying thousands of dollars as demurrages for the past 28 days. Neither the consignments are being released nor the certificate is being issued to resolve the issue,” he added