Pakistani farmers are have been against opposing the increased duty-free imports of agricultural commodities from India. Pakistan had opened the Wagha border for the import of 137 items way back in March 2012. This has now become a problem for domestic farmers.
Last year vegetables and other small items worth Rs26bn were imported. This year the first six months’ bill is Rs16bn. Pakistani farmers think with a measure of justification that Indian farmers are being facilitated at their cost and have got together to resist the process.
The main concerns of farmers are that they demand a level playing field for Pakistani and Indian farmers. On the other hand they think that SRO on dutyfree imports was tantamount to informally granting India the status of Most Favored Nation (MFN) which implicitly grants India transit trade facility which Pakistan has been vowing to resist.
Local farmers claim that Indian agricultural subsidy is well over $100bn while all farm inputs in Pakistan are taxed heavily. This creates uneven playing field. Successive governments in Pakistan have also resisted pressure from diplomatic and international financial institutions (IFI) to completely open the borders.
The government opened borders in particular circumstances to facilitate a few items which were in short supply in those days and were seeing local prices skyrocketing. Since crop harvesting is almost a quarterly phenomenon sticking to one policy through statutory orders hardly makes sense. The farmers need to be heard on this point.
Pakistan needs to look into the matter if this Wagha border facility which was meant to keep prices of perishable items down in Pakistan is being used to trade beyond Pakistan market. It may not be Indian traders but Pakistanis might be acting as the transit facilitator or Afghans might be purchasing from Pakistani market and taking the vegetables home and beyond. Otherwise how Pakistanis could consume Rs15bn worth tomatoes in a short season or Rs14bn beans in first six months of the current fiscal year.
Investigations need to be conducted because pest would also be traded along with these perishables. The quarantine facilities on Pakistani side are almost nonexistent at Wagha border. All these commodities are moving through the borders almost unchecked. Farmers from the border areas of Shakarghar have been complaining pest attacks Pakistan on wheat crop for the last few years.
(Source – http://www.blackseagrain.net/novosti/farmers-oppose-duty-free-imports-from-india-1)