–Market Committee inspector blames problems in cultivation, supply for price hike
LAHORE: With Eidul Azha approaching, the prices of fruits and vegetables have registered an unprecedented increase across the city owing to hoarding and profiteering, Pakistan Today has observed.
It has been learnt that stashers have started hoarding fruits and vegetables in the cold storages located at secret places in various parts of the city to sell the products at their desired prices in violation of the district administration’s orders for Eidul Azha.
Sources said that a group of whole sellers had emerged in the form of profit mafia and was fleecing the citizens with exorbitant rates. “The mafia of whole sellers is controlling the fruit and vegetable market and have put retailers and small shopkeepers in mortgage by giving them the commodities in the shape of mark up to sell the products on excessive rates at retail prices.”
The prices of vegetables have now reached a point where low-income citizens are finding it difficult to purchase them. The artificial prices of common vegetables like tomatoes, onions and potatoes have touched Rs160, Rs50 and Rs55 per kg, respectively, while that of lemons has crossed Rs150. Bottle gourd, cabbage and other greens, however, are still somewhat affordable since they cannot be stored.
Rehman, a buyer in Mozang Bazaar, said the city district administration’s inaction was leading to an unprecedented increase in the prices of fruits and vegetables. “The price of tomatoes, onions, garlic and ginger rises before every Eidul Azha, but the administration keeps a check on it. Unfortunately, this year no such actions by the administration can be seen and the people have been left stranded,” he said.
“Around Rs700 are spent on vegetables every week. We have to compromise on the quality of the vegetables and fruits now. The government should launch an action against those behind these prices,” said another buyer, Muhammad Ali.
Ramzan Khan, a commission agent at the Badami Bagh wholesale market, said fruits and vegetables in the market were available in a limited quantity. “The season of summer fruits and vegetables in is over in Punjab now. The supply from India is closed nowadays as well. Now all vegetables and fruits are being brought from Balochistan where there is a limited quantity too. The recent increase in prices of petroleum products is also a factor in the price hike,” he said.
Market Committee Inspector Muhammad Riaz told this scribe that the rates of fruits and vegetables had gone up due to problems in cultivation and supply. “At this point of time, the prices have gone up due to unseasonal rains that have destroyed the crops,” he said.
He added that other reasons behind the skyrocketing fruit and vegetable prices were both natural and manmade. “Hoarders become extremely active before Eid and are stocking fruits and vegetables to sell them at higher rates on festive days.”