Vegetable prices jump as shortages increase

Updated 26 Sep 2020

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Ginger prices have surged by Rs200 to Rs600 per kg.
Ginger prices have surged by Rs200 to Rs600 per kg.

KARACHI: The prices of ginger and tomato have soared to Rs600 per kg and Rs150-160, up by Rs200 and Rs60 per kg respectively.

A wholesaler in Subzi Mandi Super Highway said ginger prices had swelled due to thin arrival of Chinese variety where production had dropped and prices had gone up.

Importers are bringing in Thailand ginger to cover up demand and supply gap, he said adding that wholesale ginger price had been pegged at Rs400 per kg while it was selling at Rs200-250 per kg prior to Eidul Adha.

He said retailers are minting money from consumers who usually do not check wholesale prices, adding that the city government has remained lethargic in keeping a strict vigil on the retail prices.

He said tomatoes from Balochistan had been selling at Rs70 per kg but retailers are selling the same at Rs150-160 per kg. The markets have also witnessed arrival of Iranian tomatoes in little quantities but it could not help in bringing down prices.

A retailer said wholesalers are hiding the actual price of tomato which costs over Rs100-112 per kg.

FLOUR: Flour millers in Sindh reduced the price of Flour No.2.5 by Rs1 per kg to Rs56.50 per kg as Ukraine wheat imports continue to flourish while locally-produced wheat price dropped to Rs5,100 per 100 kg bag from Rs5,200.

Cereal Association of Pakistan Chairman Muzammil Chappal said seven vessels carrying 425,000 tonnes of Ukraine wheat of the private sector had arrived at the Karachi Port in the current month so far while another four ships carrying 60,000-65,000 tonnes of Ukraine wheat each would arrive next month. Two ships carrying 60,000-65,000 tonnes of grain imported by the Trading Corporation of Pakistan would also reach the port next month.

The government had fixed a quota of 1.5 million tonnes for private sector. Importers have been importing wheat from Ukraine at the rate of $219.50 to $271 per tonne while in the open market, imported grain costs Rs47 per kg but after adding transportation costs, the price surges to Rs49. Imported wheat is being transported to all over Pakistan to bridge demand and supply gap, he said.

Muzamil said importers had also entered a contract for importing German wheat at the rate of $271 per tonne while prospects of Russian wheat import are also being explored. He said rising buying of wheat by Egypt and Saudi Arabia has flared world wheat prices.

He was of the view that imported wheat had at least averted a major jump in flour prices so far besides ensuring availability of wheat in the market.

SUGAR: Private sector had imported around 7,000-8,000 tonnes of sugar from Egypt and the UAE in the current week while 15,000-20,000 tonnes would arrive next week.

He said the private sector had inked agreements for duty-free import of 200,000 tonnes of sweetener with foreign suppliers whose shipments would be completed by the next month. However, the GST of 17pc still exists and if it is not removed then the import of sugar would not provide any relief to the masses, he added.

Taking the imported price of Rs77-79 per kg, the 17pc GST would add Rs14-15 per kg extra on the retail price, while sugar price in the market is already at Rs95 per kg.

Published in Dawn, September 26th, 2020