KARACHI: Traders on Saturday increased the per kilogram price of tomato to Rs300-320 from Rs240-250 per kg even before the arrival of Iranian tomato in Karachi markets.
Consumers in the second week of the current month had to pay over Rs300 for a kilo of tomato and many people are not able to pay the high price of the commodity.
Many retailers have also increased the per kilogram price of onion to Rs90-100 from Rs80 per kg despite the fact that Sindh’s crop in lower quantities from various producing areas along with onion from Afghanistan and Swat has reached markets.
The wholesale price of onion is Rs70 per kg. Sindh’s onion crop may increase from the end of the current month, but traders already jacked up the price manifold.
Amid high prices, onion is also being exported to Sri Lanka, Far East and Bangladesh at $550 per tonne (FOB price).
About the tomato crisis, traders in the city’s main vegetable market said that the wholesale tomato prices had fallen to Rs200 from Rs240 per kg during the last one day. They expressed surprise as to how the retailers were fleecing consumers by increasing the price.
Nowadays, many people are picking one or two tomato as per their requirement instead of buying in kilos.
Many retailers are charging Rs80 per 250 grams of tomato and Rs300 for one kg.
Stakeholders in Sabzi Mandi are refusing to reveal the landed price of Iranian tomatoes. The government had initially issued permits for importing 4,500 tonnes of Iranian tomato.
All Pakistan Fruit and Vegetable Exporters, Importers, and Merchants Association’s patron-in-chief Waheed Ahmed said: “Actually clearing agents have been engaged in providing services by importing, clearing and transporting tomato from the Taftan border to Pakistani markets. “I think the landed cost of Iranian tomato will not be more than Rs100 per kg,” he said.
Imported tomato would first arrive in Balochistan markets and then reach Karachi and other markets, he said, adding that the situation relating to more imports and price would be clear by next week.
He said recent rains in Sindh and Balochistan may pose a threat to the ready crops of tomato and onions.
Mr Ahmed said that the ongoing protest campaign of the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl by blocking main arteries might create problems in transportation of vegetables and other items from one province to another. The government should take steps in ensuring smooth movement of goods, particularly perishable goods, he added.
Published in Dawn, November 17th, 2019