Islamabad - A social media campaign, primarily launched by consumer rights groups in Karachi urging people to stay away from buying fruit for three days, will kick off ‘across the country’ from Friday (today).

The “Fruit Boycott Campaign” was launched earlier on the social media against the exorbitant prices of fruit, sellers have created an artificial price hike during Ramazan.

The consumer groups through the boycott campaign are asking the people not to buy fruit from June 2  to June 4 so that the profiteers could be compelled to reduce the prices. The fruit boycott will reduce the demand for the commodity and it will result in the decrease of prices, the consumer rights groups say. The campaign aims to convey its message throughout the country.

After the government and local administrations failed to control the price hike of basic commodities during Ramazan, social activist and consumers’ rights groups started the “anti-fruit” campaign on the social media. Prices of fruit and vegetables have gone up over 40 percent with the advent of the fasting month.

“This is the first agitation where no political party is involved, it is the campaign of the masses and they will make it a success,” read one post on the social media. Initially, a message circulated on Whatsapp on Wednesday said that “the final action to get cheap fruit is to resort to boycotting. It’s very easy, just cook curry, break your fast with dates and don’t buy any fruit for three days and you will see that within days when the fruit will start decay and these cunning profiteers will sell their fruit below the real price.”

Later, a series of posts both in English and Urdu appeared on the social media including Facebook and Twitter, asking the public to make the drive a success.

The message further said that “you don’t know your importance as a consumer because you have the power to compel the fruit seller to bring the price down”. Another Facebook post used the term Jihad and asked the people to come and join the Jihad against the profiteers.

Another message from the consumer rights groups across Pakistan requested the people “NOT to Buy Fruit on June 2, 3 & 4 2017” as a protest against the exorbitant price hike since the start of Ramazan. “3-day boycott will dent the seller for weekend premium price sale when the most consumer does the weekly grocery for the household. It may sound tough but only YOU as a consumer can force the seller to be on knees, not everything is government job you too have a duty towards society and your fellow countrymen, make the wise choice be an active part of the campaign,” another message read.

Students, good officials, social activists, political workers and teachers etc have joined the movement and shared the posts on their walls.”I have sent the message to my entire Whatsapp friends; list,” a government official to The Nation. A Twitter user said that “I stand up against no fruit or fruit chat on 2, 3, 4th June...united against excessive fruit prices”.

However, a small number of social media users are against the fruit boycott movement saying that the campaign will hurt the small fruit sellers and not big businesses or the middle man. According to that group, they can never boycott the poor fruit sellers as they are daily wagers and selling fruit is their sole source of income.

“These rich people are ready to pay thousands of rupees on branded shirts, dresses, shoes etc but are not ready to pay the extra amount to the poor fruit sellers,” one such Facebook user said.

“Forget about the hike in fruit prices and think for a moment that these poor fruit sellers deserve your charity,” the group said. Another group is of the view that why only fruit boycott? They should boycott petrol, food items and electricity as they have all become expensive.

Some others said that it was the duty of the government, not the social media, to control the price hike. The social media boycott will affect the fruit growers and small fruit sellers, they said. 

Usually, prices of fruit and vegetables go up with the start of Ramzan as profiteers began to exploit masses by demanding extra rates.

“Just one week prior to the start of the fasting month, prices of tomatoes were Rs20 per but now it is being sold at Rs50 to Rs60 per,” a consumer, Muhammad Kareem, said.

“Banana is being sold at Rs180 per dozen, apple between Rs300 to Rs350 per kg, depending on the quality, Chinese apple at Rs280 per kg, while the prices of apricot, peaches, plums have also gone up during the holy month. Mangoes are being sold Rs170 per kg,” he said.

However, fruit sellers don’t pay heed to the call saying that not everyone follows the boycott call on the social media.

“First, I am sure it’s not going to have so much impact but in case it is successful and my fruit goes to waste due to the boycott. “I will sell it for the much higher price after the boycott ends,” Shafi Ullah, a fruit seller, said.