Pakistan’s DPP Rejects Soybean Import Entry


Feb 14, 2023 | Agricultural Markets News

Reading time: 2 minutes

Pakistan Soybean – Pakistan lacks sufficient domestic production of plant protein to replace the 2 to 2.5 million tons of Soybeans annually imported. Almost all the meal derived from Soybean imports is used for poultry feed. Due to the de-facto ban on Soybean imports, crushing activity has collapsed, meal supplies are short, and poultry feed is scarce. Poultry meat and egg prices are increasing. Pakistan’s Bureau of Statistics reports that in January 2023, chicken meat prices increased 25% compared to the previous month and increased 83% on an annual basis. Without Soybean meal in poultry rations, the feed conversion ratio has worsened, and it is taking longer for broilers to reach market weight.

Due to the abrupt change in requirements to import genetically engineered (GE) commodities for food, feed, and processing (FFP), the 2022/23 import forecast for Soybeans has been reduced to 1.2 million tons. In late October 2022, without providing trading partners any prior notice, Pakistan’s Department of Plant Protection (DPP) began requiring that importers present an import license from the Ministry of Climate Change (MOCC) as a condition for releasing Soybean arrivals.

However, MOCC has no system for receiving and processing import licenses for Soybeans destined for FFP. Beginning in 2015 until DPP began enforcing the MOCC import license requirement last October, DPP approved and cleared nearly 14 million tons of GE Soybean imports, none of which included a MOCC import license. It is unclear why DPP suddenly changed course and began requiring the MOCC import license last October.

When DPP made the abrupt change in import requirements, two Soybean consignments totaling 140,000 tons had already been unloaded and were awaiting DPP’s release order. Those two consignments are still impounded at the Port in Karachi, and authorities have told the importers that the 140,000 tons must be re-exported. Besides those two consignments, at the time of the change in policy, two Soybean vessels were waiting to birth, and at least one other Soybean vessel was in transit. DPP cleared and released the Soybeans in at least two of those vessels.

DPP has not provided any scientific or logical rationale for why these consignments were handled differently: all the soy is from the US or Brazil, and of course, all contain GE Soybeans. MOCC has not issued any import licenses for soy imports. According to the AgFlow data, Pakistan imported 0.9 million tons of Soybean from Brazil in 2022, followed by the US with 0.4 million tons.

Pakistan Soybean Import: Unclear Situation

The requirement that importers obtain a MOCC import license for GE products is in Pakistan’s National Biosafety Guidelines. Nonetheless, no process exists for importers to request and receive the license, and DPP is not enforcing the requirement. While the National Biosafety Committee (NBC), chaired by MOCC, recently met to develop regulations on licenses for GE imports for FFP, it remains unclear when a system will be in place to obtain the necessary permit and resume Soybean imports.

Some NBC members believe local food safety and environmental risk assessments should be required for each GE soy event before authorization for import. If that opinion is written into the final requirements to obtain an import license, then the process for obtaining an import license would be arduous and quite lengthy, effectively making the GE Soybean import ban permanent.

The Ministry of National Food Security and Research (MNFSR) took a determinedly negative stance on agriculture biotechnology, suggesting publicly that GE Soybeans pose human health risks and that Pakistan can do without GE commodity imports. MNFSR officials are NBC members, and DPP is an agency within MNFSR. As a result of NBC’s lethargic pace in developing a system for import licensing and MNFSR’s opposition to GE Soybean imports, additional imports for the rest of this year are doubtful.

Other sources: USDA

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