KARACHI: Good quality onion prices have swelled to Rs160-180 per kg from Rs120-140 two weeks back as retailers blame massive exports for the price spiral.
They said that many inflation-hit consumers have restricted their purchases to less than one kg to manage their daily expenses of other items due to high prices.
There is also no relief in new potato prices which are available at Rs120 per kg, while Commissioner Karachi issued the retail rates at Rs109 per kg on Tuesday.
Also, consumers complain vegetable vendors are selling wet onions in various areas.
Commissioner Karachi’s price lists reveal Mandi/Bachat Bazaar and retail rates of onion at Rs140 and Rs160 per kg on Dec 5 as compared to Rs120 and Rs138 on Dec 1.
Falahi Anjuman Wholesale Vegetable Market President Super Highway Haji Shahjehan said onion and potatoes hold a big share in the country’s overall vegetable exports. Currently, the export of potatoes is not being made due to the arrival of new crops while export may get underway from January, he added.
He said onions are being exported to Malaysia and Sri Lanka.
Pakistan’s overall vegetable exports plunged by 42pc in quantity to 251,995 tonnes and 38pc in value to $67 million during July-October FY24 from 431,733 tonnes and $108m in the same period last year.
Shahjehan said the wholesale rates of onion are now Rs5,000-5,400 per maund (export quality). It means that onion rates in the wholesale market are Rs125-135 per kg while retailers claim to have purchased it at Rs160 per kg and are retailing it at Rs180.
“The issue is that onion exports are thriving amid a low crop of Sindh which is putting pressure on the local rates,” he said, adding that the arrival of onion from Kabul has also dropped thus creating a demand and supply gap. Arrivals from Balochistan are also going down.
Onion prices may come down if the government bans its exports, he said.
Published in Dawn, December 6th, 2023