LAHOER

The rate of onion has sharply increased by more than 100 per cent just in a couple of days from Rs25 per kg to Rs50-60 in retail market with no availability in makeshift markets established on Sundays in Punjab.

Market sources said that supply of onion from Sindh has been suspended leading to less supply in the provincial capital and raising the rate by more than Rs25-35 per kg only in few days.

Dealers of Sunday bazaars also refused to sell the commodity due to high rate. Resultantly several vegetables were missing in most of the Sunday bazaars of provincial capital, as the market committee fixed the prices of items lower than the cost of wholesale market. Dealers said that rate of 5 kg onion was Rs250 (Rs50/kg) in wholesale market while the market committee fixed the price at Rs28 per kg which was not viable for them. Hence they refused to sell onion in Sunday bazaars. However, substandard and low quality onion was available in limited quality at few stalls at Rs25-30 per kg.

Agri experts are of the view that another crisis of onion shortage, although of less intensity, may over-take the country because of some new factors viz less area sown in the Punjab, un-timely rains and a wet spell and un-favourable conditions of the NWFP crop. They said that after few years gap the country usually confronts with onion crisis causing acute shortage in supplies and abnormally high prices on different reasons. Recently extensive damage caused to the Sindh main winter crop by unprecedented floods (which practically washed it away, requiring re-sowing). Another onion crisis repeated itself mainly due to the record export destined to India mostly by the land-route where the onion crop met with failure. Besides India, onion export continued as usual to the Gulf states, Sri Lanka, Singapore and China. The latest onion crisis, although of short duration, occurred two years ago which could have been averted by the increased supply of the crop (which had been unusually delayed due to its washing away by heavy rains soon after sowing.  Pakistan Agri Scientist Association chairman Jamshed Cheema said that onion is grown in all the four provinces of the country in varying volumes and with different harvesting seasons.

It is the Sindh winter crop which is exported abroad because of its best quality. It is also greater volume-wise. The Balochistan crop feeds the other three provinces during September-November.

He said that onion prices failed to adopt any regular trend which can be controlled by introducing an early warning system of crop and undertaking other proper policy measures.

Meanwhile, major vegetable rates continued to remain low with some visitors hailing the government efforts to bring down the prices of certain eatable items including flour and oil. They said that Pakistan has been entangled in various problems including law and order and terrorism etc which requires some time to be resolved. They said that fuel and electricity rates and transport fares has also been minimized during last few months benefitting general public. They said that this decrease in prices of mentioned items should be stable and should not be increased in coming budget 2015-16.  Potato price was fixed at 13 per kg, and onion at Rs28 per kg with an increase of Rs3 per kg while rotten and lower grade was sold at Rs25 per kg. Tomato price was fixed at Rs45 per kg but it was not sold in the makeshift markets. Garlic China price was fixed at Rs115 per kg, garlic India Rs108 per kg, while both Indian and Chinese was sold at Rs130 per kg. Ginger Thailand was fixed at Rs108 to 112 per kg, ginger China at Rs118 to 124 per kg, while Indian was sold at Rs130 per kg. Cauliflower rate was fixed at Rs25 per kg, while missing in Sunday bazaars, cabbage was fixed at Rs17 per kg. Green chilli local was fixed at Rs102 per kg, and farm at Rs 83 per kg, while sold at Rs100 per kg. Capsicum was fixed at Rs40 to 45 per kg but also not sold in the makeshift markets. Arum price was fixed at Rs65 to 70 per kg, pumpkin at Rs50 per kg and ladyfinger at Rs120. The price of pea was fixed at Rs20 per kg. Radish price was fixed at Rs45 per kg, turnip at Rs6 per kg, methi at Rs15 per kg, but not sold there.