Protocol on Onion Export to Open New Markets for Pakistan

By Qudsia Bano

ISLAMABAD, Nov 25 (INP-WealthPK): The Protocol for Inspection and Quarantine Requirements (PIQR) for onion export is expected to open up new markets for Pakistani goods in China as it will raise awareness among Pakistani onion growers regarding quarantine and phytosanitary compliance.

The signing of the memorandum of understanding between the two countries came about after Mr. Nong Rong had proposed importing onions from Pakistan in June this year. The two countries have agreed to step up their efforts to execute the onion trade in a timely manner.

The department of plant protection (DPP), the ministry of national food security and research, had started working in January 2019 on developing quarantine and phytosanitary protocols for the export of Pakistani onions to China. The pest risk analysis (PRA) was done by both countries’ national plant protection organisations, and later the technical negotiations were carried out.

The consultations culminating into the protocol focused on ensuring the safe entry of onion into China to prevent pest introduction and maintain plant health under the WTO’s Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures Agreement (SPS Agreement).

Under the agreement,  DPP during the growing season of onion would undertake pest surveys, apply integrated pest management (IPM) targeting quarantine pests of concern to China using internationally-recognised phytosanitary inspection methods, and ensure pest-free onion exports to China.

The processing businesses that want to export onions to China must be registered with DPP, and recommended for further registration with the General Administration of Customs China (GACC) after passing an audit.

Speaking about the agreement, Federal Minister Syed Fakhar Imam said the government had placed a high focus on the sustainable expansion of the agriculture sector and was enacting the most appropriate policies to attain the desired results. “Pakistan ranks 6th and 9th in terms of onion acreage and output, with 138,000 hectares and 1.8 million tonnes of onion production, respectively. Pakistan also contributes 2.1% of global onion area and 1.9% of global onion production.”

The federal minister expressed his heartfelt gratitude to the Chinese envoy, as well as the General Administration of Customs China and the Chinese government for their cooperation and facilitation of bilateral agricultural trade between the two countries.

Mr Nong Rong said. “We officially signed the protocol on onion. We are still ready to assist Pakistani exporters with the inspection and quarantine of chilies, potatoes and other agricultural products so that they can enter Chinese markets.” He said Pakistan’s ministry of food security and research may provide assistance and direction to local farmers, and that “the Chinese embassy will help with onion export.”

Mr. Nong Rong said the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) had entered a new phase of high-quality development centred on industrial and agricultural cooperation. “In the agriculture sector, such as plantation, food processing, cold chain storage, and contract farming, China and Pakistan are extremely complementary,” he said. He further stated that China-Pakistan agriculture trade had been quickly rising in recent years, and despite the Covid-19 epidemic in 2020, bilateral agriculture trade volume remained strong at $717 million. Mr. Nong Rong continued, “From January to September this year, China-Pakistan agriculture trade reached a new high of $860 million, with exports from Pakistan to China totalling $613 million, and this trend will continue year after year.” “I believe that more high-quality farm products from Pakistan will be able to access Chinese markets in big quantities.”

Agriculture exports are essential not only for economic growth but also for societal advancement in an agro-based economy. Pakistan is not only one of the world’s top onion producers, but also one of the countries with the highest per capita consumption. As CPEC has entered the new phase of development, it is opening doors for Pakistani farmers in Chinese markets. Rapid economic expansion is the most essential and pressing goal for emerging countries, and exports are commonly regarded as a growth engine.