The Pakistan government’s recent ban on genetically-engineered (GE) imports has led to a significantly reduced forecast for soyabean imports in the 2022/23 marketing year, according to data from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) reported by World Grain.

In the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS)’s Global Agricultural Information Network (GAIN) report, Pakistan’s soyabean imports in 2022/23 were forecast to decline to 1.2M tonnes, less than half of last year’s total of 2.5M tonnes.

The report also revised the 2022/23 import forecast for rapeseed downward to 500,000 tonnes from 950,000 tonnes the previous year.

In October, without issuing notice to trading partners, Pakistan’s Department of Plant Protection (DPP) announced that it would require importers to present an import licence from the Ministry of Climate Change (MOCC) as a condition for releasing soyabean arrivals, the 10 February report said.

However, the USDA noted that the MOCC had no system for receiving and/or processing import licences for soyabeans to be used in the food, feed or processing sectors.

In the seven years prior to the ban, the DPP approved and cleared nearly 14M tonnes of GE soyabean imports, none of which included an MOCC licence, according to the FAS report.

“It is unclear why the DPP suddenly changed course and began requiring the MOCC import licence last October,” the USDA said.

The ban was having a negative impact on the country’s poultry sector, the report said.

“Pakistan lacks sufficient domestic production of plant protein to replace the 2M to 2.5M tonnes of soyabean typically imported,” the USDA said.

“Almost all the meal derived from soyabean imports is used for poultry feed. Due to the de-facto ban on soyabean imports, crushing activity has collapsed, meal supplies are short and poultry feed is scarce.”

As a result, poultry meat and egg prices had increased, with Pakistan’s Bureau of Statistics reporting that chicken meat prices in January had increased 25% compared to the previous month and were 83% higher on an annual basis.