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Farmers dump vegetable in market
 
 
Shahid Shah
Sunday, January 08, 2012
From Print Edition
 
 

 

KARACHI: Potato prices have sharply declined as farmers are dumping the vegetable into the market due to lack of returns on them against the total input cost, said one farmer on Saturday.

 

Pakistani potatoes are being sold at the maximum rate of Rs400 per 40 kg in the Karachi wholesale market, against earlier rates which had been over Rs800 per 40 kg.

 

Farmers Association of Pakistan Chairman Dr Muhammad Tariq Bucha told The News that farmers were dumping potatoes as it was difficult to pay labour cost for taking potatoes out of the field. Moreover, transportation cost was an additional burden on them.

 

President, Welfare Association Wholesale Vegetable Market, Haji Shahjahan said that potatoes were facing tough competition from India, which was being sold at Rs2 to Rs3 per kg across the border.

 

Despite the comparative low price for the vegetable, farmers were still getting a profit because fertiliser input costs were low in India, he said.

 

“India is also exporting to Sri Lanka, Malaysia and Singapore,” he said. However, Pakistani exporters were unable to export it because shipping cost in Pakistan was also double than in India.

 

On the other hand, Pakistan is importing onions from India because the local crops were damaged in the recent rains in Sindh. Indian onion is reaching the market at Rs1,200 per 40 kg. “We used to export onions, but this year we are importing it,” he said.

 

Vegetable prices have declined in the wholesale market (Sabzi Mandi) in the last couple of months as bulk supply from Sindh started reaching the market, but retailers are charging more than double the price, said one trader.

 

Shahjahan said that prices decreased by up to 50 percent on different varieties of vegetables including onions, tomatoes, potatoes and others. “Supply has increased which has affected the prices,” he said.

 

Vegetables from Punjab, Baluchistan and rain-hit areas of Sindh started entering in the market, as some growers grew vegetables in the fields where rain water had evaporated, he said.

 

Despite the huge decline in the prices at the wholesale market, no benefit was provided to the citizens as retailers were charging more than double the actual price. “I agree that they are charging more. If one thing is Rs10 per kg, it is being sold at Rs20 to Rs25 even in Gulshan-e-Iqbal, Karachi which is very near to the wholesale market,” Shahjahan said.

 

“Government had announced to open three markets at the time of shifting wholesale market to super highway but no other market is opened yet,” he added. Retailers are charging high prices due to the long distance from the wholesale market and an increase in the price of diesel and patrol, he said, and besides government had failed to announce any consumer friendly policy.

 

Prices of other commodities including cooking oil, sugar and flour were also high, Shahjahan said, which had also affected vegetable prices. “Arresting the vendors is not the solution,” he said. “Government should open fair price markets in all 18 towns of Karachi.”

 

Shahjahan said that supply increased since December as trade from all provinces had increased.

 

After losing its production in rains, Pakistan imported vegetables mainly from its two close neighbours with surplus vegetables; India and Iran.

 

Duty on vegetable imports from Iran is around 45 percent, making it almost impossible for the importer, as rates go high when it reaches the hands of the consumers. Price hike of vegetables was a reason that high duty was applied on import of vegetables from these nations, said one trader.