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Flood-hit Pakistan gets 50 trucks of vegetables from Iran, Afghanistan

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Islamabad | September 3, 2022 12:29:04 PM IST
Amid soaring prices of vegetables and food products in the country facing devastating floods, 50 trucks carrying vegetables from Iran and Afghanistan arrived in Pakistan through the Taftan and Chaman borders.

According to the Dawn newspaper, a senior official of the Quetta Customs Collectorate said, "Over the last two days, 50 large-body trucks entered Pakistan through the Friendship Gates of Taftan and Chaman."

He said that more consignments of onions and tomatoes would reach the country in the coming days, reported Dawn.

"We received 27 trucks of fresh tomatoes and onions from Iran on Friday which were carrying 660 tonnes of onions and tomatoes while 13 trucks reached yesterday," Arshad Hussain, a senior Customs officer said, adding these trucks were immediately dispatched to Quetta after completing legal formalities.

Deputy Collector of Customs, Chaman, Malik Muhammad Ahmed, said 10 trucks crossed into Pakistan through the Chaman border from Afghanistan.

"The trucks loaded with the consignment of fresh tomatoes and onions were cleared after the routine checking," he said, adding that the federal government had already announced a zero Customs duty on the import of tomatoes and onions from Iran and Afghanistan.

As Pakistan faces the brunt of unprecedented floods, the prices of these two commodities and other vegetables have gone up and the entire country is facing a shortage of vegetables, reported Dawn.

The federal government has urged the private sector to import tomatoes and onions from Iran and Afghanistan. Due to the increased prices of onions and tomatoes, the government also abolished the duty on these vegetables for 90 days.

The President of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Balochistan, Fida Hussain Dashti said, "Because of the import of onions and tomatoes from the two neighbouring countries, prices of these two commodities would come down in the next two to three days in all markets across the country."

The grim situation in Pakistan can be evaluated by the fact that it had to ask for help from Afghanistan which is itself facing a huge humanitarian crisis. The United Nations on Friday expressed concern over the worsening flood situation in Pakistan as it will threaten the food supply to crisis-ridden Afghanistan.

The UN's World Food Programme said much of the food aid transited through Pakistan by road -- a network that has been severely affected by the worst floods in the country's history. This will place huge strains on efforts to get food into neighbouring Afghanistan to relieve its catastrophic humanitarian crisis.

WFP's Pakistan country director Chris Kaye said there was a "major problem" in restoring agricultural production in Pakistan to feed its own people and continue supplying food to Afghanistan.

Large amounts of its food enter via the port of Karachi. "Pakistan provides a vital supply route into Afghanistan. With roads that have been washed away, that presents us with a major logistical challenge," added Kaye.

According to satellite images from the European Space Agency (ESA), more than one-third of Pakistan is underwater amid its worst floods in history.

As deadly floodwaters threaten to create secondary disasters, food is in short supply after water covered millions of acres of crops and wiped out hundreds of thousands of livestock.

More than 1,100 people have died from the floods since mid-June, nearly 400 of them children, while millions have been displaced, according to Pakistan's National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA).

Pakistan, which was already grappling with political and economic turmoil, has been thrown into the front line of the human-induced climate crisis.

Pakistan's monsoon season usually brings heavy downpours, but this year's has been the wettest since records began in 1961, according to the Pakistan Meteorological Department.

Pakistan's Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said that the floods were "the worst in the country's history" and estimated the calamity had caused more than USD 10 billion in damages to infrastructure, homes and farms.

More than 33 million people have been affected, or about 15 per cent of the population, according to Pakistan's climate change minister Sherry Rehman. More than 1 million homes have been damaged or destroyed, while at least 5,000 kilometers of roads have been damaged, according to the NDMA.

Floods have impacted 2 million acres of crops and killed more than 794,000 heads of livestock across Pakistan, according to a situation report from the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

More than 800 health facilities have been damaged in the country, of which 180 are completely damaged, leaving millions of people lacking access to health care and medical treatment, as reported in many affected districts, according to WHO. (ANI)

 
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