Pakistan Oilseeds: Progress on Obtaining GE Import License  


Jun 30, 2023 | Agricultural Markets News

Reading time: 2 minutes

Pakistan’s total Oilseed production in 2023/24 is projected to increase 24 percent to 2.9 million tons, driven by a rebound in cottonseed production. While cottonseed production is forecast to recover, little change is expected for rapeseed and sunflower production, as returns for other crops hinder Oilseed area expansion. Both rapeseed and sunflower production in 2022/23 is forecast to increase, but their share in total Oilseed supplies will remain at only about 20 percent.

The Government offered a 12,500 rupees ($50) per hectare subsidy for Oilseed growers in Punjab, which is one reason for the increase in canola output. Nonetheless, the Government generally also offers a generous guaranteed price for wheat, which competes directly with rapeseed for area. Because of the more profitable guaranteed price offered for wheat, growers will favor planting wheat over Oilseeds. As a result, no expansion in rapeseed nor sunflower seed production is expected for 2023/24. Domestic Soybean production is insignificant.

Due to better returns from crops (mainly wheat) that compete with rapeseed for area, no increase in rapeseed production in 2023/24 is expected. Output in 2022/23 is forecast to increase as Government subsidies increased planted area. Sunflower seed area and production are expected to decline in 2023/24 due to better returns from other crops. In line with population growth, palm oil imports are forecast to grow about 6 percent during 2023/24, reaching 3.6 million tons.

In 2023/24, total Oilseed use, almost all for crushing, is forecast at 3.6 million tons, 17 percent higher than the 2022/23 estimated use. The total installed crushing capacity is around 8 million tons, and no additional capacity will be added to the system. This higher consumption forecast assumes the Government removes the ban on GE Soybean imports, resulting in increased crushing for poultry feed.

As a result of the import ban, Oilseed use in 2022/23 is estimated to decline by at least 21 percent. The lower Oilseed crushing has resulted in a commensurate decline in poultry feed consumption and poultry meat production. Since the Government abruptly halted Soybean imports in November 2022, poultry meat output is off about 31 percent, and poultry prices have more than doubled.

As of March 2023, Pakistani authorities still ban imported genetically engineered (GE) Oilseed. While they have made some progress in developing a system to allow for GE Oilseed imports, uncertainty regarding when that system will be operative clouds the outlook for Oilseed imports. Similar uncertainty surrounds domestic meal and oil production forecasts.

Oilseed Import in Pakistan

Total Oilseed imports in 2023/24 are projected at 2.6 million tons, which would be 71 percent higher than the estimated use for 2022/23. However, this forecast hinges on the Government implementing a system to allow importers to obtain a license for GE Oilseed imports for food, feed, and processing (FFP). While authorities have made some progress in formulating a process for importers to obtain an import license for GE imports for FFP, as of March 2023, it remains uncertain when that system will be implemented and when exactly imports will be allowed again.

Oilseed imports for 2022/23 are estimated to be about 1.4 million tons, significantly lower than the previous year. As a result of the import ban, only about 600,000 tons have been imported to date (authorities continue to refuse entry for another 140,000 Soybeans, which have been detained at the port since last November; sources say it must be re-exported). Depending on when/if authorities operationalize a system to import GE canola and Soybeans, it’s quite possible no more Oilseeds will be imported during this 2022/23 marketing year. As of mid-March 2023, due to the import ban and uncertainty about when it will be entirely removed, importers have yet to book any additional Soybean imports for the remainder of the marketing year 2022/23.

Other sources: USDA

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