KARACHI: Tomato prices in the wholesale and retail markets of the country including Karachi surged beyond the buying power of 90 percent of the consumers.
Regarded as one of the essential kitchen items of daily use, its rates had surged to the level of Rs 150 to Rs 160 per kilogramme (kg) with the start of this week but during the last few days improved supply from Sindh interior would help to bring down its rates to Rs 110 to Rs 120 per kg at retail level while wholesale rates at Rs 85 to Rs 90 per kg.
During last 15 days the commodity was available in retail at Rs 40-50/kg. However despite decline in its price, the prevailing prices are still beyond the buying capacity of large segment of the population. Some 15 days back, wholesale price of tomato was ranging between Rs 20-25 per kg, which rose to Rs 40-50 per kg last week but on Monday the wholesale price was ranging between Rs 100-120 per kg depending on the quality.
Retailers are fleecing consumers by charging higher prices for normal quality and size tomato as many of them are demanding far higher rates compared to wholesale rates. Chairman Falahi Anjuman Wholesale Vegetable Market Super Highway Haji Shahjehan termed suspension in supply of tomato from India last week as one of the main reasons. He hoped tomato from new Sindh crop would start reaching the market very soon and currently production of Badin was finding way into the market.
He said improved supplies from Sindh crop would cause drop in prices spelling immense relief to consumers in the process. Shahjehan said over 300 trucks carrying Indian tomato were also waiting at the Wagah Border and their release would normalise the rates. Unless government do not ensure establishment of large storage facilities for perishable vegetables in Karachi for catering to the requirement of huge population, their shortage in the event of any religious festival or non-availability of transport facilities would continue pushing rates of all kinds of vegetables and fruits to sky high position posing serious financial hardship to consumers.
In the wake of surging rates of tomato, its demand has nose-dived in the retail and wholesale markets as claimed by traders. Owing to inflated rates of tomato, very few customers are daring to make its purchase as the overall sale at the retail level has plunged to more than 60 percent at most of the retail outlets, claimed a retailer at Empress Market. Similar sentiments were echoed by the retailers at Goal Market Nazimabad and Hyderi Market who complained off dwindling demand of one of the most essential kitchen item by the customers. -Dailytimes