Imports fail to bring down onion prices

Published October 1, 2022
LAHORE: Vendors sort onions at a vegetable market. Prices have risen to Rs180 a kg despite duty-free imports of 80,000 tonnes from various countries after floods destroyed crops in Sindh and Balochistan.—Online
LAHORE: Vendors sort onions at a vegetable market. Prices have risen to Rs180 a kg despite duty-free imports of 80,000 tonnes from various countries after floods destroyed crops in Sindh and Balochistan.—Online

KARACHI: The arrival of imported onions has failed to bring any price relief for consumers who are paying up to Rs180 per kg as compared to Rs80 before floods in Sindh and Balochistan.

Onions are arriving from Egypt, Turkey and China via Dubai as the government has allowed duty-free imports from all over the world, except India.

Heavy monsoon rains and floods have destroyed onion crops in Sindh and Balochistan, which usually arrive in October, thus creating a huge demand and supply gap which has pushed up prices.

All Pakistan Fruits and Vegetable Exporters, Importers and Merchants Association Patron-in-Chief Waheed Ahmed said some 80,000 tonnes of onion have landed from various countries in less than a month to control skyrocketing local prices.

Onion prices may remain under pressure as floodwater has not receded in many agricultural areas. However, some growers have started sowing but it would take two to three months to reach the markets, he added.

Mr Waheed said onion imports have slowed down as Afghanistan and Iranian crops are also coming to an end. Besides, arrival via sea routes is also taking time as compared to import from land routes.

He recalled that onion prices had fallen when imports from Afghanistan and Iran had been thriving.

He said onion consumption stands at 150,000 tonnes per month which means that imports are proving insufficient to meet the huge demand.

Tomato and onion retail prices had hit the peak of up to Rs480 and Rs200 per kg, respectively, in the last week of August.

In the third week of August, tomato and onion were available at Rs 110-150 per kg and Rs60-90 per kg depending on the quality.

He said monthly tomato consumption is estimated at 50,000 tonnes. Balochistan tomato crop is coming to an end. Importers are a bit reluctant to import tomatoes in bulk quantities due to their limited shelf life.

He urged the government to control the rate at the retail level where shopkeepers operate on maximum profit margin due to the lack of any effective price-checking campaigns.

Falahi Anjuman Wholesale Vegetable Market President Haji Shahjehan said imports of onion from other countries like Egypt and Turkey had been initiated due to quality issues in Iranian and Afghani onion. Besides, the slow arrival to Karachi was also because of shipments being made to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

He said retailers enjoyed a field day as they were making huge profits. Wholesale tomato rate is Rs160-180 per kg while onion price hovers between Rs120-130 per kg.

Published in Dawn, October 1st, 2022

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