LAHORE - Hundreds of Pakistan rice containers have been stuck up for more than a week at Zimbabwe ports on the issue of Phytosanitary protocols.

The Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan Chairman Samee Ullah Naeem told The Nation that shipments made by the Pakistani exporters had been stuck up at Customs clearing point of Zimbabwe ports for the last seven days despite the fact that exporters had paid all local taxes and duties, besides providing Phytosanitary certificate to the authorities.

He said that approximately 200 containers, having about 5,000 metric tons of rice were held at the ports just on minor issue as some amendments were made in Phytosanitary protocols by Zimbabwean government but not intimated to the Pakistan government.

"Our rice exporters have provided all kinds of Phytosanitary certificates to Zimbabwe ports authorities issued by the Pakistan Plant Protection Dept, but they are not satisfied. "We have now approached the concerned department in Pakistan and ministry to intervene and save our members from the heavy cost of demurrage."

Samee Ullah asked the government of Pakistan to approach the Zimbabwean authorities to press them to release hundreds of rice containers held at these ports without any solid reason.

"The REAP is also in contact with Zimbabwean officials to discuss the problems faced by our members," said Samee.

He also written a letter to the Pakistan Ministry of National Food Security & Research federal Secretary Fazal Abbass Mekhan, asking him to intervene in the matter and coordinate with the Zimbabwean authorities to expedite the matter and resolve the problem of Pakistani rice exporters, so that Pakistani rice cargo could be released on priority basis. "In present case, importers are facing loss in the form of demurrage bills as a result of which our potential business to Zimbabwe will also be suffered greatly."

Samee Ullah said that Pakistan is one of the largest exporters of rice to Zimbabwe.

He said that Pakistan rice exports to Zimbabwe have increased particularly during last six months due to aggressive marketing by REAP members and exporters.

In recent case, the phytosanitary certificate issued by the Pakistan Department of Plant Protection (DPP) has been rejected by the DPP of Zimbabwe and the shipments are lying at Zimbabwean Ports, who are not issuing Import Permit to Pakistani exporters, he said.

He said that issues the importers are facing in Zimbabwe will have a negative effect on exporters in Pakistan in the form of late payments which will lead to a slowdown in exports.

"We hope that the problem will be taken up by Pakistani government with Zimbabwe at the earliest. It is a national issue and not anyone's personal matter," he said. The REAP chairman said "The Department of Plant Protection Zimbabwe intends the following details to be mentioned on Phytosanitary Certificate by the DPP Pakistan. So that import permit could be issued for the entry of Pakistan rice in Zimbabwe."

"The grain is free from the following and other storage insect pest. a) Larger Grain Borer (Prostephanus Truncatus) b) Angoumois Mouth (Sitotroga Cerealella) c) Khapra Beetle (Trogoderma Granarium) d) Lesser Grain Borer (Rhizopertha Dorminica) e) Grain Weevils (Sitophil Granaries) f) Red Floor Beetle (Tribolium Castaneum) g) Saw Toothed Grain Beetle (Oryzaephilus Surinamensis) h)The Grain has been fumigated through Phsophine (Mention Dose) for minimum period of 120 hrs i) Parent Crop was field inspected during active growth and found free Tilletia Indica, the seed and weeds have also been laboratory tested. j) Free from Sitorogacereallella and Plodiainterpunctella k) Tr-treatment (Mention the appropriate fungicide). He said if our DPP includes above lines in the certificate and intimates the Zimbabwean DPP through an email and our shipments of rice will be released.

He also appealed the DPP at Karachi Ports to also include the above information in Phytosanitary Certificate to all shipments destined for Zimbabwe so that no further shipment could be rejected in future.