KARACHI: Despite the arrival of Iranian tomato in the local market, retailers in the city are earning a windfall profit by keeping the retail rate of the red fruit at Rs280-320 per kilogram, it emerged on Sunday.

Local administration, who is responsible for curbing profiteering and hoarding, has so far played an ineffective role in rescuing consumers’ interest, leaving them at the mercy of the retailers who have been earning Rs100 profit on one kg of tomato.

In what appears to be a mere formality, the administration has been issuing the wholesale and retail rates on a daily basis, but not a single retailer want to display what they called an ‘unrealistic’ official price list.

The tomato price had hit an all-time high at Rs400 per kg compared to Rs240 a kilo a few days back, showing a steep hike of Rs160 per kg in a single day. At that time, the wholesale rate had jumped by Rs100 to Rs300 per kg.

When the wholesale rate decreased to Rs200-220 per kg, the retailers kept the rates at Rs 280-320 per kg.

On Saturday, the city government had issued the retail price of high-quality tomato at Rs153 per kg but it was hard to find the red fruit available in markets on this price.

Consumers believe that the government should ensure availability of tomato at the reduced rate if it releases daily rates.

Waheed Ahmed, the patron-in-chief of the All Pakistan Fruit and Vegetable Exporters, Importers, and Merchants Association, said the government had issued an import permit for 16,500 tonnes of Iranian tomato out of which 2,242 tonnes had reached Pakistan between Nov15 and Nov 22.

In Karachi, over 40 containers carrying 22 tonnes each had landed since import got under way.

He said tomato crops of various producing areas of Sindh were also now finding way to various areas of Punjab where prices had also risen sharply.

Published in Dawn, November 25th, 2019