A shopkeeper displays dried figs at his outlet in a Peshawar market. — Dawn
A shopkeeper displays dried figs at his outlet in a Peshawar market. — Dawn

PESHAWAR: The dried figs imported from Afghanistan’s Kandahar province have flooded Peshawar’s small and big markets, while street vendors are seen sell the edible fruit everywhere.

Almost every street has vendors with rolls of dried figs either on shoulders or wheelbarrows attracting customers.

Most markets of dry and dried fruits in and around Peshawar city are attracting fewer customers compared with previous years’, especially in the winter season, due to high prices.

However, dried figs have reported high sales.

The sellers insist the prices of all dry and dried fruits, including dates, peanuts, almonds, pistachio nuts, cashew nuts and walnuts, had gone up 20 to 40 per cent compared to last year’s due to the high regulatory duty and high transportation costs.

Trader Zaman Wali said the use of figs both fresh and dried was considered to be a cure for many stomach problems

Street vendor Rizwan Jan told Dawn in Namak Mandi that high-quality almond was available at Rs700 per kg.

He said the skyrocketing prices had turned ordinary customers to corncobs and peanuts to satisfy their urge for dry and dried fruits in the winter season.

“Since most buyers cannot afford other dried fruits, vendors carry rolls of dried fig on wheelbarrows to attract them saying the fruit has a mention the Holy Quran,” said vendor Sadiq Ameen in Peshawar Saddar.

He said the dried figs selling at Rs300-Rs450 per kg were bought by the people due to its deliciousness and its properties to heal digestive problems.

Revealing the health benefits of dried figs, Dr Feroz Shah said one ounce of the edible fruit had three grammes of fibre, which helped alleviate constipation.

“Dried figs contain many vitamins and help lower cholesterol level and control blood sugar level. They are also a good source of calcium, which can ward off osteoporosis and other health issues,” he said.

Botanist Prof Khalid Khan said figs with botanical name ‘Focus Palmata’ from family moraceae were grown mostly in orchards in the subtropical regions in Afghanistan, which were bigger and tastier than the Pakistani ones.

He said dried figs had natural sugars, minerals and soluble fibre in large quantity.

“Figs are rich in minerals including potassium, calcium, magnesium, iron and copper and are a good source of antioxidant vitamins A and K that contribute to health and well-being. They help us have a peaceful sleep, shed weight, improve the functioning of kidneys and reduce cancer risks,” he said.

Published in Dawn, January 14th, 2019