ISLAMABAD: Surging tomato prices in the twin cities has led customers to look for alternate ways to prepare everyday meals.
Typically sold for Rs40 to Rs70 per kilogram, tomato prices have now risen to Rs140 to Rs170, depending on quality.
The cost has led some vendors to stop purchasing tomatoes from wholesale markets, leading to an artificial shortage.
Farhat Noreen, a local resident, told this agency that she has faced this issue so many times that she has started buying tomatoes when prices are low and freezing them.
She admitted that frozen vegetables do not have the same flavour, texture or nutritional value, but said this method is more economical.
Another resident, Kalsoom Bibi, said people were using other items, such as yoghurt, to replace tomatoes in daily cooking.
She added that many people were taking advantage of the situation by selling low quality tomatoes at high prices, forcing people to compromise on the quality of their produce. She said she decided not to compromise on such high prices, and is using alternate ingredients instead.
She said that many home cooks were storing frozen tomatoes in preparation of such price hikes, but she does not enjoy the taste of frozen tomatoes.
Vegetable vendor Mohammad Akhter explained that with the prices of tomatoes so high in wholesale markets, vendors cannot afford to sell them at lower rates.
He said he could understand the problems facing customers, but argued that the government should control the prices of basic commodities at all levels.
Another vendor, Abdul Karim, blamed the surge in prices on hoarding and profiteering, saying that vendors were not responsible.
He too said the administration was responsible for ensuring food and vegetables are available at reasonable prices, adding that prices of these commodities will be reduced if the administration takes action against profiteers.
Published in Dawn, March 11th, 2019