KARACHI: The price of tomato hit a record high in Karachi on Tuesday and reached Rs400 per kilogram from Rs300-320 per kg on Monday.
In the absence of any landed price of the Iranian tomato, greedy traders also brought the price of Swat and Sindh crop at par with the Iranian tomato rate to make huge profits.
But the local administration, like its past practice, quoted an unrealistic retail rate of Rs253 per kg compared to Rs193 per kg on Monday.
In the first week of November, the official retail rate of tomato was Rs117 per kg and Tuesday’s official price clearly indicated that the government itself was revising the price upward.
There are hardly any traders selling tomato at the control rate.
A representative of wholesalers asks citizens not to buy tomato to break monopoly of a few traders
Traders said a box containing 13-14 kg of tomato was available at Rs4,200-4,500 depending on the quality, thus forcing many traders to suspend purchasing.
The government had last week issued a permit for importing 4,500 tonnes of tomato from Iran, but the arrival of the red fruit had yet to pick up pace in the market, resulting in a persistent hike in the rates in view of rising demand.
Of the 4,500 tonnes, only 989 tonnes had arrived in the country so far, a trader said, adding that he could not confirm whether more quantities arrived at the Taftan border on Tuesday.
People urged to not buy tomato for ‘two-three days’
Falahi Anjuman Wholesale Vegetable Market president Haji Shahjehan said two containers carrying 44 tonnes of tomato had arrived on Sunday while on Tuesday only one container reached the market. This failed to bring any relief for consumers. The wholesale price had crossed over Rs300 from Rs180-220 per kg on Monday, he added.
He blamed the federal government for restricting import to a few people instead of allowing a free import by any trader. As a result, the limited quantities were already booked and sold at the Taftan border. Previously open imports had somewhat kept the tomato prices stable, he said.
“Being president of the wholesale market, I can only urge the customers to restrict their purchases for two to three days as it may break the monopoly of a few traders as well as bring down the tomato prices,” he said.
He claimed that the Sindh crop had started in limited quantities and the price of a 10-kg wooden box of tomato in Mirpurkhas was Rs2,300.
Consumers are paying Rs100 for a mere 250 grams or just four tomatoes. They said the government had yet to take serious notice in checking the landed and selling price of the Iranian tomato to curb profiteering by traders.
Published in Dawn, November 20th, 2019