SRINAGAR: Pakistani garlic is likely to return to the markets in Kashmir Valley almost five years after it was prohibited for trade through the Line of Control (LoC).
In 2009, the Ministry of Agriculture, New Delhi, through its Directorate of Plant Protection Quarantine and Storage, Amritsar, asked the state to halt garlic imports from Pakistan-administered Kashmir (PaK).
Custodians of both Chakoti and Chakan-Da-Bagh Cross-LoC trade routes were asked to put on hold the vegetable’s import.
According to Hilal Ahmad Turkey, General Secretary of the Salamabad-Chakoti Trade Union, the directive cited presence of a pathogen, Embellisia allii, in the imported garlic.
However, the Ministry of Home Affairs, has asked the state to explore the possibilities of reintroducing PaK garlic into the list of commodities.
“The fear that the disease may spread to the local varieties of the vegetable had GoI prohibit the import. But now the process to review the prohibition has been initiated,” Turkey said.
Prior to the prohibition, Garlic, he said, had emerged as the frontrunner among the commodities coming from PaK, ever since the Cross-LoC trade was started in 2008.
Its rising demand in Valley markets, leading to decline in the demand for supply from the Indian states, had turned upset the traders across India, he said.
“If allowed for trade again, garlic from PaK can see the rates of the commodity decrease by at least a half,” he said.
General Secretary of Poonch-Rawalakote Trade Association, Sardar Kishen Singh, told Kashmir Reader that the prohibition had a dual impact, as Pakistan responded with banning the export of green-gram to Jammu and Kashmir.
“For the Cross-LoC trade to be beneficial to traders, it is necessary that the state rethinks the prohibition,” he said.
According to wholesalers here, the absence of the PaK garlic from the markets had, of late, led to drastic rise in the rates of garlic in the Valley.
“Since the major quantity of garlic produced in the Valley is used in manufacture of Ayurvedic medicines, we depend on the neighbouring states for the supply. The supply has been limited and demand high, so the rates went up too,” he said.