PEOPLE shop for vegetables in a city neighbourhood.—White Star
PEOPLE shop for vegetables in a city neighbourhood.—White Star

KARACHI: Just as in the past, the stakeholders and retailers of vegetables have ganged up to give a tough time to consumers, already groaning under the high food prices.

The vegetable traders have already started hoarding greens to reap huge profits as demand swells ahead of Eidul Azha for making various dishes from sacrificial animal meat. However, they come up with such excuses as the soaring transport cost because of repeated increases in diesel and CNG prices coupled with fewer trucks available as most such vehicles get engaged in transportation of sacrificial animals, to justify the hike.

The prices of most sought-after items for the ‘big’ Eid — onion, ginger, garlic and tomato — have started rising.

The role of the city government is confined just to issuing daily rates and leaving the consumers at the mercy of shopkeepers. The city administration does not spend any time checking the real cause of price hike either — artificial shortages or stockpiling by both retailers and wholesalers.

Bread price hiked for a second time this year

For instance, onion now costs Rs60-70 per kg versus Rs40-50 of a few days back while tomato prices hover between Rs60 and 80 per kg as against Rs50 per kg.

Ginger and garlic now sell at Rs400 and Rs320 per kg as compared to Rs320 and Rs280 per kg. The prices of other items, whose demand remains subdued during Eid, are also going up. For example, turai (ridge gourd) is selling at Rs140-150 per kg as against earlier Rs100-120 per kg.

Loki (bottle gourd) can be purchased at Rs120 as compared to Rs80-100 per kg.

With a slight increase of Rs10-20 per kg, cabbage (bund gobhi) and Shimla mirch (capsicum) are now sold at Rs80 and Rs120 per kg, respectively.

Chairman of the Falahi Anjuman Wholesale Vegetable Market New Sabzi Mandi on the Superhighway, Haji Shahjehan, while ruling out any stockpiling by the stakeholders before Eid, said hoarding is not possible in perishable or green vegetables.

He said: “Balochistan onion crop is currently feeding the entire country, thus resulting in pushing up its wholesale rate to Rs50 per kilo from Rs35 of a few days back.”

The same situation exists in tomato whose price ranges from Rs40 to 50 per kg as compared to Rs25-30 per kg of a few days back. Green chilli price went up to Rs80-100 per kg from Rs50-60 per kg, he added.

He said Chinese ginger’s wholesale price hovers between Rs250 and 280 per kg which was Rs200-220 per kg while Iranian garlic sells at Rs180-240, up by Rs30-40 per kg. The rupee devaluation can also be blamed for jacking up prices of imported vegetables.

He said most transporters had been involved in bringing in sacrificial animals for the last 15-20 days. “In case some transporters are available, they demand very high fares for hauling vegetables. Besides, the recent rains in various parts of the country have also played havoc with the prices.”

Second price jump in bread

Bread makers on Friday gave a second price shock to the consumers ahead of Eidul Azha by raising the prices by nine per cent. They gave an over eight per cent price jerk just ahead of Ramazan this year.

As per the new price list issued by the Karachi Bread Association (KBA), consumers would pay Rs35 and Rs36 for mini-bread (plain and milky) instead of Rs30 and Rs31.

The rates of small, plain and milky breads have been pushed up to Rs55 and Rs56 from Rs50 and Rs51 while the large plain bread would be sold at Rs100 as compared to Rs90.

A cut burger bun and special burger bun pack of four pieces would be available at Rs50 and Rs55 as compared to Rs45 and Rs50, respectively.

While maintaining the school bun rate at Rs10, bread makers raised the price of burger roll to Rs17 from Rs15 followed by bran bread and pillow pack rusk pack prices to Rs80 and Rs70 from Rs70 and Rs 60, respectively.

KBA general secretary Haroon Iqbal attributed the price hike to a 43 per cent increase in gas tariff, 15pc in polythene bags, 10pc in flour and power tariff and frequent jumps in transport cost on account of diesel and other fuel prices from March 2019 till to date. He said sugar now costs Rs72 per kg versus Rs51 per kg in December 2018.

The cumulative cost impact on bread and other items comes to 23pc from January 2019 to date based on various charges relating to utility bills, transport cost, sugar, polythene bag and flour rates, but bread makers, instead of giving a big hit to consumers, had first increased prices by 8.1pc in April and nine per cent on Aug 9, he said.

Published in Dawn, August 11th, 2019

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