TANDO MOHAMMAD KHAN                 -                Wholesalers have increased prices of basic commodities items on rising demand and extra buying by industrialists and charitable organisations for providing ration to unemployed persons and daily wage earners due to the 15-day lockdown to control the spread of COVID-19.

Many wholesalers are avoiding quoting rates, blaming looming shortage of some pulses and sugar. Industrialists and charities have been buying pulses, flour, sugar, rice, etc, for making six to seven kg bags containing essential items for distribution among deserving people. But a hike in wholesale price is alarming since wholesalers had already claimed that there was “no shortage of any food items” in the country. Besides, the latest cut in diesel prices should have brought down the transportation cost and the benefit should have been passed on to the general public.

The wholesale price of gram pulse was now Rs145 as against Rs125 four days back while the rate of moong, masoor, maash, Kabuli channa and sugar was Rs 225, Rs116, Rs185, Rs135 and Rs80 as compared to Rs220, Rs104, Rs165, Rs125 and Rs78 per kilo.

Many people were buying food stocks for making a relatively small bag, ranging between Rs2,000 and Rs4,000, containing essential items. People, after buying essential items in bulk, were making packets on their own, while some were asking major retailers to do it for them.

Small retailers in different area said they had been getting flour stocks from mills with a gap of one week, blaming many millers for deliberately squeezing supplies in the markets. They said millers had mainly focused their supplies to the shopkeepers having a sizable turnover. Some shopkeepers, despite having flour bags at their shops, were seen denying selling flour to new customers as they preferred their old customers first.

The poultry industry was facing hurdles in supply as the law enforcement agencies are not allowing movement of trucks in the province, said Poultry farm owner Irshad.

He said, our dedicated transport for pick and drop of employees working in food processing items is also stopped and restricted which is another big problem. “Detention of vehicles carrying day-old chicks, poultry feed/feed ingredients, live poultry birds, frozen chicken meat, poultry meat, eggs, vaccines/medicines and other farm equipment/items would create shortage of poultry birds,” he added.