The Seed Association of Pakistan (SAP) has said that unlawful hindrances created by Punjab Food Department in procuring certified wheat seeds could possibly trigger a shortage for future sowing seasons.

“This crisis will have an adverse impact on production of wheat, which is a strategically important crop of Pakistan,” SAP said in a statement on Thursday. According to it, officials from the Punjab Food Department and district governments were not only restricting seed companies from procurement of certified wheat seed but also confiscating their shipments.

“Neither officials of the food department nor district governments are competent or qualified enough to differentiate between grain and seed,” SAP Chairman Asif Ali said in a letter addressed to Prime Minister Imran Khan, Food Minister Fakhar Imam and others.

In the letter, Ali highlighted that seed companies were being restricted from procuring seeds, which was in violation of the federal law.

He added that it was also against the decision of the Lahore High Court which establishes Federal Seed Certification and Registration Department as the sole regulator with authority over seeds and advises provincial authorities against interfering in seed procurement. The letter added that seeds were a federal subject under the Seed Act 1976 (Amended 2015) and regulated by the Ministry of National Food Security and Research through the Federal Seed Certification and Registration Department (FSCRD).

“Seed companies are also registered and regulated by the FSCRD and they are legally authorised to procure, move and sell certified seeds across Pakistan under the aforementioned Act,” Ali underlined in the letter. It maintained that private sector produced 88% of the total certified wheat seeds in Pakistan.

The letter recalled that in the 5th Punjab Agriculture Committee meeting held on April 2, 2021, the members had assured SAP that seed companies with valid field inspection reports would not face interference from the food department.

A delegation of the Seed Association of Pakistan also met with the Punjab Food Director on April 8, 2021 to seek his cooperation in the matter of unlawful hindrance in procurement of the certified wheat seed similar to previous years.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 23rd, 2021.

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