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May 2024

Russian authorities just stopped a contaminated consignment of Pakistani rice. Are we looking at a ban?

Pakistan is trying to make its mark in the international rice trade at a time when India has stopped its export of rice. Will this be detrimental?

A nasty surprise awaited the Russian port authorities when a consignment of Pakistani rice arrived at port on the 15th of March. The consignment of white rice had the presence of an insect Megaselia scalaris (LOEW), commonly known as “scuttle fly” or “coffin fly.”

Normally, the presence of minor insects would not be a major deal breaker in the international trade of food commodities. Countries regularly have pest control and fumigation protocols for all imported food. The only problem was that the particular kind of fly that was in the consignment is not native to Russia, and as such a fast reproducing pest such as the coffin fly could wreak havoc on Russia’s ecological integrity.

To fend away such a situation, Russia has strict controls against it in place. This, of course, is a blunder of great magnitude. Pakistan is currently at a crossroads in the international market where its rice is high in demand because of India ending its export of different kinds of rice. To send a consignment to a high-profile country like Russia that has not been properly vetted and contains a foreign pest will send shockwaves in the effort to make Pakistan a major rice exporter. 

It takes glaring inefficiency to make a mistake of this magnitude and possibly harm trade ties between the two countries. What makes this worse is that this is not the first time this has happened. Pakistan faced a similar situation with Russia back in 2019 and had to face a ban from the country. So what effects will this latest mishap have on Russia-Pakistan food trade?

While talking with different sources with the government departments and other stakeholders, we tried to understand the whole episode and reasons behind such incidents which harm the country’s exports. And why, at a time when Pakistan needs exports to balance its current account, are regulators shooting themselves in the foot. QR Code

Published Date: April 29, 2024

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