Gur inclusion into Sugar HS code dents jaggery trade, hampers export to Afghanistan

PESHAWAR-Inclusion of traditional Gur into HS code of Sugar and Brown Sugar has badly dented the trade of jaggery in Khyber Pakhtunkwa besides restricting its export to Afghanistan.

Talking to APP, President Gur Mandi Peshawar Ehsanullah Mohmand said that, “The Custom authorities have included gur in the HS code of sugar and brown sugar ensuing in the imposition of restriction on the export of the commodity to Afghanistan, impacting a seasonal trade providing livelihood opportunities to around one hundred thousands people in the province.”

He said the decision was taken by Federal Board of Revenue (FBR), aimed to restrict smuggling of sugar to the neighbouring country, which created problems for gur manufacturers and traders of the country. Furthermore, due to extra questioning and checking by security forces to ensure that traditional sweet is not being smuggled across the border, the traders have also stopped supply of gur to newly merged districts including Mohmand and Waziristan, he added. 

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 “Gur making and selling was a seasonal trade starting from October to March and around one hundred thousand people are associated with it,” Ehsan Mohman told APP.

Only in Peshawar Gur Mandi, there are around 260 numbers of Arthies (Traders) and every one of them employs around five to six number of labourers for loading and unloading of trucks. There are gur markets in every district including major ones in Charsadda and Mardan. There are hundreds of thousands of Ghani in Charsadda, Peshawar, Mardan, Swabi, Buner and some southern districts which are providing direct job opportunities to thousands of rural labourers besides the same number in urban localities. He said the gur produced in KP especially in Charsadda district has a very unique taste on basis of which it is demanded in the neighbouring country and even in Gulf countries. While the gur produced in Laiqatpur area of Punjab has a taste similar to gur of KP and is also demanded in Afghanistan, he informed. Ehsan, who is also General Secretary of All Pakistan Agriculture Produce, opined that if the government extends supports and Export Promotion Bureau (EPB) takes measures for promoting Gur in the international market, our country can earn a handsome amount of foreign exchange. Even in the current season, the 78 kg bag of gur of KP is being sold at Rs7,800 while 80 kg bag of gur produced in Punjab is available in the market at Rs7,000.

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“Closure of Afghan border for export of gur has curtailed our trade to half reducing the supply of around 30,000 bags of 78 kg of jaggery only in Peshawar market to 15,000 bags on daily basis,” Ehsan disclosed. During corona lockdown when the Afghan border was suddenly closed for all kind of vehicles, six trucks loaded with gur become stuck in a long queue. Return of trucks after clearance took around 25 days and each trader faced a loss of Rs. 600,000. Ehsan also asked Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Hilal Food and Safety Authority to take notice of the availability of gur in the market after completion of sugar cane crushing season which starts in October to March. All adulterated gur is being sold in the market after completion of crushing season and concerned departments should take notice of it, he reiterated. About 70 per cent of gur available in the market is made of glucose, sugar and other chemicals, he continued.

The Nation, 18 Jan, 2021

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