A joke about tomatoes is going viral these days in which a grocer warns the customers in these words," The people with cardiovascular issues must refrain from asking the prices of tomatoes." Indubitably, the joke is well-tuned with the prevalent situation as far as the sky-touching prices of tomatoes is concerned. The sudden and exorbitant rise in the prices of tomatoes exposed the inability and helplessness of the concerned authorities to control the prices of food items. It has become a norm of the profiteers to increase the prices of commodities which are in demand the most. Earlier, during Ramzan, the prices of fruits sky rocketed and the customers had to resort to a three day fruit-boycott to show and register their concern. In the same way, a few weeks ago it became an herculean's task for the consumers to purchase onions. Now, it is the tomato which has made the headlines in terms of price hikes. One wonders, why a country which claims to have an agrarian-based economy faces such problems as exponential increase in the prices of different fruits and vegetables.

The concerned departments must act proactively to bring such untoward instances in order to save the consumers from any inconvenience. They should spot the hoarders and black-marketers well in time and take strict punitive measures against those who create artificial shortage of edibles to mint money. The agriculture department must create awareness among the farmers about the monetary benefits of growing vegetables. It is lamentable that mostly the vegetable growers depend on old and outdated modes of ploughing and cultivating their fields which take much time and the production of vegetables has been nominal as well. So we have to resort to importing vegetables which costs us a lot. Furthermore, it is necessary that the authorities at the helm must come up with a viable plan to pinpoint and nab those who rob the common people by exploiting such situations as shortage of fruits and vegetables.

MUHAMMAD FAYYAZ,

Mianwali, September 29.