HomeFeaturesPrices of fruits, vegetables go beyond affordability level

Prices of fruits, vegetables go beyond affordability level

By Fakhar-e-Alam

PESHAWAR, Feb 18 (APP): As the sun rays bath the mud house of poor fruit seller, Ayaz Khan starts his journey from his village to the fruits and vegetable market hoping to purchase apples, guavas, bananas, and citrus at reasonable rates to support his six members of the family on the financial front.
Donned in traditional attire—woolen chadar, Chitrali cap, and wearing Peshawari Chappal, Ayaz Khan (32), who is assisted by his elders brothers, wakes up early in the morning and starts his Chingchi rickshaw soon after having breakfast and rushed to the fruit market Pabbi Nowshera, expecting to get fresh fruits through open auction on reasonable prices by anticipating sale.
Associated with the inherited pain-sticking business for the last 12 years after the death of his father Sher Ali Khan at village Mohib Banda Nowsehra, the motivated fruit seller said that he suffered financial losses in case perishable fruits and vegetables were not sold on time.
“These days many consumers just ask about prices of fruits and vegetables and return empty handed due to exorbitant prices forcing us to wait till late at night with a hope to sell out stock of perishable goods to avert financial loss.” The citrus of Khanpur Haripur and Manki Sharif Nowshera is almost out of common man’s reach after its prices soared to record Rs. 350 per dozen in local fruit markets against Rs. 280 last year.
The alarming surge in vegetable and fruit prices in Peshawar and Nowshera districts raised significant concerns among the citizens, prompting them to call upon the district government to ensure the availability of essential food items at reasonable rates and take strong action against price hikers and hoarders.
A visit to vegetables and fruit markets at Chamkani Peshawar by this scribe revealed that one kilogram apple was being sold at Rs300, banana at Rs150 per dozen, gauwa Rs150 strawberry at Rs 600 per kilogram, citrus at Rs 350 per dozen and citrus fruit Rs 300 which was almost beyond of purchasing power of the under privileged.
Similarly, prices of small onion has swelled to Rs 350 per kilogram, tomato at Rs150 per kilogram, potato at Rs120 per kilogram, taroroot (kachalu) at Rs200, cauliflower at Rs200 per piece, carrot Rs200 at per kilogram, capsicum at Rs280, coriander leaves at Rs40 per 250 gram, cucumber at Rs80 kilogram, ginger at Rs1000 kg, garlic at Rs240 per kilogram, lemon at Rs150per kg and pumpkin at Rs150 per kilogram. Similarly, one kilogram chicken is being sold at Rs700, boneless chicken at Rs1200, Rs 800 per kg large animal’s meat and Rs1800 small animal meat per kilogram respectively in the local market.
“I came to purchase fruits for engagement party of my granddaughter but the prices are sky high this morning and will come again at night hoping for its reduction at Pabbi fruit market,” said Misal Khan, a retired Information Officer while talking to APP.
Complaining about soaring prices of fruits and vegetables after election 2024, Khan said that district administration has failed to regularly check prices of daily use items including fruits and vegetables and people were left at the mercy of price hikers and hoarders in Nowshera and Peshawar.
Professor Dr. Zilakat Malik, former Chairman, Political Economics Department, University of Peshawar said that Pakistan has ranked 99th out of 121 countries facing challenges of food insecurity, malnutrition, stunting and hunger due to population bulge, low agriculture productivity and climate change.
He said the massive flash floods 2022 had destroyed over 1.7 million hectares of an agrarian land and major agricultural products such as rice, tomatoes, onions, wheat, and other vegetables in all provinces of Pakistan and have cost 800,000 heads of livestock, thus exposing an additional 2.5 million people to hunger, malnutrition, stunting and poverty especially in Sindh and Balochistan provinces.
He said the prices of fruits and vegetables increased after the agriculture sector had suffered at USD $3.7 billion due to 2022 flooding, adding approximately 14.6 million people need adequate food security and agricultural assistance in flood-hit areas of the country.
Ms Javeera, spokeswomen BISP KP told the news agency that Benazir Nashonuma is a Conditional Cash Transfer program linked with health and nutrition for addressing stunting in children besides promoting dietary diversity.
Considering the high percentage of stunting, the government has also rapidly expanded the program to all districts of the country with establishment of 488 facilitation centers at tehsil and district-level health facilities, she said.
The budgetary allocation for this initiative was increased from Rs. 4.9 billion to Rs. 20 billion (410 percent increase) for FY 2022-23 that had been further increased to Rs. 32.3 billion (61 percent increase) for FY 2023-24.
Zafarul Mani, KP Secretary Food said that an inclusive mechanism was put in place for monitoring and control of fruits and vegetables in the province.  He said that an online food price and control system has been developed through which citizens check the daily prices of essential items and lodge complaints against overcharging vendors or hoarders on which prompt action is being taken.
He said PMRU was empowered to generate weekly reports regarding the set key performance indicators (KPIs) of price magistrates which had also been tasked with ensuring the real-time performance tracking of price magistrates through the KP Inspection Mobile App.
Mani said the district price control committees have been notified with the powers to conduct price review meetings besides notifying fresh price lists of fruits and vegetables for every district, including the newly merged areas.
The market committee has been empowered to monitor the daily auction of fruits and vegetables markets along with providing price lists of the daily auction which will be updated through the “price module” mobile application besides ensuring that price lists of all perishable items on a daily basis in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, he added.

APP/fam/taj (APP Feature Service)


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