KARACHI, July 16: Wheat and vegetable prices have surged ahead of Ramazan, which is due to begin this week.
Vice Chairman Pakistan Flour Mills Association (PFMA) Karachi Zone Ilyas Kapadia said that some traders of other commodities have started lifting wheat in bulk quantities from the open market which caused the price jump to Rs2,640-2,650 from Rs2,600 per 100 kg bag a week back.
“These traders are hoarding wheat while giving an impression of rising wheat exports which is wrong. The stockists are procuring wheat to make huge profits when the government will release wheat stocks to the flour millers from its godowns after Ramazan hopefully at higher rates at Rs2,800 per 100 kg bag,” he said.
The government has already raised the support price of wheat to Rs1,050 per 40 kg from Rs950 last year.
Kapadia recalled that when wheat support price was Rs950 per 40 kg last year, the issue price set by the government for wheat sale to millers was Rs2,550 per 100 kg bag.
“The government has already announced a subsidy to ensure sale of reduced flour during the holy month,” he said.
The Sindh government will provide 90,000 wheat bags to around 72 flour mills in Karachi and 110,000 bags to over 75 mills in interior Sindh, he informed.
He added that the Sindh government is likely to provide 100 kg wheat bag at subsidised rate of Rs2,000. “Hopefully, flour will be available at a reduced rate of Rs23 per kg during Ramazan,” he said.
The millers have already reduced the flour price twice in June to 30.50 from Rs29 per kg.
Meanwhile, vegetable prices also crawled ahead of any meeting between green traders and the local government to finalise the issuance of daily price list during the holy month.
Traders usually push up the rates few days ahead of Ramazan so that higher prices could be fixed. Consumers also failed to receive any price relief in vegetables despite Rs9 per litre cut in diesel prices in June. Bulk of vegetable arrives on diesel run heavy vehicles from up country.
The most sought after item of Ramazan — onion saw a jump of Rs5 per kg to Rs25 from Rs20 while some traders were seen charging Rs30 per kg in various areas.
A random market survey on Monday showed a jump in tomato price to Rs40 from Rs30 per kg on Saturday while it was Rs20-25 per kg seven days back.
Traders were demanding Rs25 per kg for potato as compared to Rs20 per kg while cucumber price swelled to Rs50-60 from Rs30-40 per kg.
Lokki price touched Rs40 from Rs30-35 per kg while lady finger price is now tagged at Rs50-60 per kg as compared to Rs30-40 per kg. Traders were seen asking consumers Rs50-60 per kg for Tinda as compared to Rs40 per kg while bitter gourd (karela) price also hit to Rs30-40 from Rs25-30 per kg. Turrai sells at Rs40 as compared to Rs30 per kg.
Majority of the traders linked the retail price hike to rising trend in wholesale prices of vegetables. However, Chairman Falahi Anjuman Wholesale Vegetable Market Haji Shahjehan did not agree that wholesale traders have arbitrarily raised the prices to cash the situation in Ramazan.
He said some crops have come to an end. He claimed that onion crop in Khyber Paktunkaw, which was feeding Punjab, came to an end and now Balochistan crop is finding way both in Punjab and Karachi. As a result, the wholesale price of good quality onion rose to Rs16-18 from Rs12-14 per kg two days back.
Wholesale price of tomato also increased to Rs20 from Rs10-15 per kg as arrival of the red commodity from Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhaw came to an end. Tomatoes from Balochistan are currently arriving in Karachi.
He recalled that growers suffered losses by selling the product at low price from the production cost in May and June due to which people at retail stage purchased it at Rs20 per kg.
However, he said there was no change in wholesale rate of potato at Rs12-14 per kg. The prices of other greens went up by Rs4 to 5 per kg in the wholesale market, he added.