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Pakistan: Import of tomato seeds increases by 15 percent to Rs 320 million

The import of tomato seed increased by 15 percent to Rs 320 million during eleven months of July-May 2008, importers and trader informed Thursday. Tomato seed import covers around 65 percent of the total vegetable seed import in the country, Holland and India are the major exporting countries, they added. The import of the vegetable seeds from USA, Japan, Korea, New Zealand, Denmark, Holland and India has registered 10 percent increase to Rs 640 million in same period.

The chairman of All Pakistan Vegetable Seed Merchant Trade Association (APVSMTA), Chudhry Khairuddin, said the importers have called for rationalising duty on import of okra seeds in order to bring down the high cost of vegetables in local market. The increase in imports of seeds is the result of the consumption of vegetables mainly in lower and lower middle class segment, which has gone up by around 40 percent in all four provinces due to double digit inflation and rising meat prices and utility bills etc, said Ahsan Ahmed, senior member APVSMTA.

He said more than 60 percent of the imports of pea seeds are made from USA and 25 percent from India. Some 5 percent import of pea seed is also made from New Zealand. Only ten percent seeds are germinated in the country, mostly in Toba Tek Singh in Punjab, which is not up to the international standards. `In Faisalabad, growers are producing quality tomato seed but it only caters around 4 percent of the growers demand in the country`, he added.

The reason for this paltry contribution of locally produced vegetable seeds is because the farmers believe that imported seeds are of good quality and are high yielding. `If the ministry reconsiders to rationalise duty on okra seeds import, the domestic prices of the vegetable would come down by almost two third`, he added.

More than 90 percent import of radish seeds are made from Japan and Korea, seeds of white turnip with purple top from Denmark, Cauliflower and tomato seeds from Holland and France, Salad pata and cucumber seeds from Denmark and Simla green chilly seeds from Denmark and other countries.

“Our farmers and growers have least hybrid and germination facilities and less yield due to lack of expertise, while insufficient land is also a bottleneck in this regard,” he added. He said some imported seeds are also germinated and hybrid at local level in NWFP and parts of Sindh especially in winter for fruiting. This is known as greenhouse or glasshouse effect process for sowing the sapling.

Mr Ahmad said imports of vegetable seeds cater around 85 percent food needs of the country and our agriculture research centres are not well equipped and there is a lack of trained professionals that could produce quality vegetable seeds in the country.

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