KARACHI: Retailers have started charging higher prices for Chinese ginger and garlic anticipating a likely suspension or slowdown in import of the vegetables from China in view of the coronavirus scare.

The retailers are charging Rs400 for a kilogram of ginger and garlic compared to Rs320 per kg a few days ago.

They blamed a rise in wholesale prices in Sabzi Mandi for the recent hike in prices.

Market sources believed that there was a possibility of hoarding of the already available stocks of the two commodities in the wholesale and retail markets in case imports from China came to a halt.

Senior Vice President Falahi Anjuman Wholesale Vegetable Market Haji Alimuddin said the wholesale rates of ginger and garlic had risen to Rs300 from Rs260 per kg on depleting stocks in the wholesale market, whose stocks might last for another one week to 10 days.

He said that the imported commodities from China would arrive in 30 days.

He said ginger was also being imported from Thailand while the local crop of garlic would reach the market in March.

Haji Alimuddin said imports of ginger and garlic from China had so far not discontinued and traders were clearing their consignments from port. He claimed that both the commodities were already fumigated from the exporting destinations.

“So far, there have been no bottlenecks in imports from China,” he said, adding that some importers, however, had decided not to import ginger and garlic from China till coronavirus existed.

When asked whether the authorities had given any guidelines about fumigation of ginger and garlic stocks available at Sabzi Mandi, Haji Shahjehan, the president of the association, said: “So far we have not received any intimation from any government departments.”

Sources said the government should check ginger and garlic stocks in Sabzi Mandi; otherwise those who had stocks would further indulge in black marketing by releasing limited stocks.

Besides, the prices of onion and tomato, which had reached Rs120 and Rs400 per kg in the second half of 2019, were being reduced after the improved arrival from Sindh’s producing areas.

Currently, the retailers were charging Rs40-50 for a kilo of tomato and onion, respectively.

Haji Shahjehan said the wholesale prices of other vegetables were also crawling down owing to better supplies from producing areas.

The retailers said bottle gourd, apple gourd, brinjal and cucumber, which were available for Rs100-120 per kg, were now being sold at Rs80 per kg.

Malir peas’ price came down to Rs150-160 from Rs240 per kg. Turnip is available at Rs60 compared to Rs80 a kilo a few days ago. Cabbage and cauliflower are available for Rs80 compared to Rs120 a kilo a few days ago.

Published in Dawn, February 2nd, 2020

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