The effects of the torrential rains and flash floods in the country have become visible in the provincial capital as local markets face a scarcity of common vegetables like onion and tomato on Sunday.
Traders have warned that vegetable prices may go higher while many others may face shortages due to the prevailing weather and flood conditions in the country.
During a survey of the city, it has been observed that the scarcity of vegetables in the market has been caused due to shortage and inflated rates of such vegetables in the main market of the city — which has led to suffering.
However, at a few shops, such vegetables were available. But due to high prices, these were out of range for the customers. Tomatoes which were available for Rs160 per kilogram just a week ago have now witnessed a sharp increase and is available at Rs400 to Rs500 per kg in the local market.
Besides tomatoes, the price of onions has also reached out of the reach of a common man which is being sold at a price of Rs220 to Rs250.
“I never thought that onion prices could surge up to this high,” said Ateeq, a customer at a vegetable shop in Johar Town. He said that he was unable to buy onions at this price because it was out of his purchasing power. “Whenever there is any unfavourable condition in the country whether due to rain or any other disaster, mafia becomes active to loot the people,” he said and blamed the government for not keeping check and balance on the price hike.
On the other hand, shopkeepers said that after buying vegetables at high rates from the green market they were forced to sell them at a high price. “A shopkeeper always wants an increase in sales but when prices go high in the wholesale market, it decreases his sales,” said a vegetable seller while talking to MinuteMirror.
To cater for the needs of vegetables and fruits for the population of over 12 million, there is only one main green market at Badami Bagh in the city. According to market secretary Shahzad Cheema, the market is facing a huge shortage of onion and tomato, while the market received these vegetables at inflated rates compared to last week. He informed that the supply of onion and tomato had decreased to 70 per cent at Lahore’s green market.
Punjab’s Anjuman-e-Arrhtian president Mian Faisal said that prices of onion and tomato observed a surge due to severe shortage in the market owing to the weather calamity which hit the vegetable producer areas. Talking to MinuteMirror, he said that the situation was witnessed not just in Lahore but across the province because a large quantity of onions and tomatoes were being supplied by Balochistan.
“Qila Saifullah and Quetta were the major producers of tomatoes while most of the onions come from Dera Murad Jamali and other districts of Balochistan and Sindh,” he said, adding that now these areas had gone under flood water, leading to the destruction of onion and tomato crops.
Faisal further informed that the city market was receiving over 100 trucks of onions and over 50 trucks of tomatoes daily. However, the destruction of crops reduced the number of trucks. “Due to unavailability of domestic onion and tomato, these trailers are being imported from Afghanistan which reached after paying huge taxes to the government,” he said.
He revealed that the vegetables being imported from Afghanistan were the same which reached Afghanistan through Pakistan under a transit trade agreement. “In the current scenario, first of all, Pakistan should lift the ban on import from India otherwise tax or duties should be exempted on the import of specific vegetables from Afghanistan and Iran,” he demanded, saying the situation might worsen in coming months.