LAHORE: Prices of various vegetables and fruits have massively surged in Lahore and other parts of the province and they are expected to increase further in the coming days due to short supply in markets and destruction of the crops by the floods in Balochistan and Sindh.

The government is considering the option to import basic and necessary vegetables like onion and tomato from India through Wagah border, Dawn has learnt from a market committee official.

“At present, we have a very limited supply of onion and tomato from Balochistan. The onion we are receiving from Balochistan these days is not of good quality as it is wet due to rains and floods. This all has led to an increase in prices of these two main vegetables up to Rs300 per kg (both) that were Rs80 to Rs95 per kg before the rains and the flood,” Lahore Market Committee Secretary Shehzad Cheema told Dawn on Saturday.

“In next three months, the prices of these two vegetables and some others are expected to hike more due to their short supply to the market,” he warned.

The situation expected to worsen in coming days

According to Mr Cheema, the major Punjab cities, especially Lahore, Faisalabad, Gujranwala, Rawalpindi, Sargodha, Sahiwal, Multan and Bahawalpur, as well as those in other provinces are presently getting the supply of tomato and onion from Afghanistan via Torkham border.

“One hundred containers of tomato and around 30 of onion are being received at Torkham border daily, out of which two containers of tomato and one of onion is being brought to Lahore city on a daily basis and the number of containers is absolutely too short to meet the demand in the provincial capital of Punjab,” he explained and adding that the some vegetables, including Shimla Mirch (Capsicum or bell pepper), are also short in the market due to the floods.

Shehzad Cheema said import of vegetables from Iran via Taftan border (Balochistan) was not viable as the Iranian government had increased taxes on its imports and exports. When asked, he said the import of onion, tomato and other vegetables from India through the Wagah border seemed to be the only option to meet the shortage and maintain prices.

“We have heard that the government is considering this option these days,” he added.

Mr Cheema predicted that the prices of date palm and banana would also go up in the coming days as most of the orchards in Sindh had been destroyed by the floods. Apple supply from Balochistan or other areas had also been stopped due to flooding. However, most of the traders had already stored a huge quantity of the fruit. “Hopefully, the apply price will remain stable,” he said.

“The price of cauliflower, which also comes from Balochistan ranges from Rs200 to 250 per kg these days. It was Rs100 per kg in the first week of August,” said a vegetable vendor in the open market. He added that per 5kg price of onion and tomato in the wholesale market (Mandi) crossed Rs1,200 on Saturday.

It may be mentioned that since May, the increase in the petroleum products already caused a massive raise in the prices of fruits, vegetables and other commodities in the open market. In May, the per kg price of potato, onion, tomato, garlic, ginger and cucumber was Rs27, Rs63, Rs66, Rs140, Rs205 and Rs57, respectively.

Published in Dawn, August 28th, 2022

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