LAHORE

Following the massive floods in Punjab, the major wholesale markets are facing shortage of vegetables and fruits, as the floodwater destroyed not only cotton, rice, sugarcane crops but also submerged veggies harvest, causing the rates going up sharply. The wholesale market vendors said that presently provincial capital is depending supplies from other provinces of Sindh and Balochistan to flood-hit Punjab which adds additional cost of transportation.

The rates of veggies have started going up further due to suspension of supply from the surrounding areas of Lahore, as the price of onion is touching Rs55 per kg in open market and Sunday bazaars while tomato price, which is coming from Sindh and Balochistan, has crossed Rs70 per kg in both bazaars. Local potato continued to retail at Rs65-70 per kg in open market with imported potato recording a rate of Rs63 per kg in Sunday bazaars. Cucumber price jacked up to Rs60 per kg against Rs40-50 while bitter gourd was selling at R60 per kg, brinjal price climbed to Rs55, bottle gourd selling at Rs65 per kg, apple gourd price rose to Rs65-70 per kg, lady finger was available at Rs60 per kg. All Pakistan Vegetable and Fruit Market Association president Ch Zaheer stated that shortage in supplies has resulted in more than 15-25 per cent raise in the prices of vegetables, as growers of surrounding areas of Lahore including Kasur, Sheikhupura, Nankana Sahib, Lakhudero, Shahdra, Chuhng and Saggian have slowed or stopped supply of veggies due to rain water destruction of their crops. However, the supply is being compensated from other provinces to some extent, he added.

The authorities did not learn any lesson from the destruction caused by the previous floods in 2010 in Punjab, agri expert Jamshed Cheema, adding that the devastation caused to the agriculture sector could have been averted if the government would have built water reservoirs, besides installing early flood warning system. He said that a large number of animals were also perished due to floods, leading to increase in their prices ahead of Eidul Azha. Market sources claimed that there’s a shortage of animals in Shahpur Kanjran cattle market impacting the prices of mutton as well as the beef which may further go up before and after Eid. Poultry industry stakeholders said that poultry prices will go up in near future, as floods have washed away a large number of poultry farms spread throughout the province. Mr. Cheema said that Gujranwala district in upper Punjab was the worst hit area where severe floodwater destroyed paddy and other crops fields of over 80,000 acres.

In the same way crops in vast areas of Mandi Bahauddin, Hafizabad, Sialkot, Narowal, Gujrat and Sheikhupura also destroyed, causing heavy shortage of rice, resulting in sharp reduction in paddy export.

Agri experts said that in Hafizabad, Sialkot, Narowal, Gujrat, Sheikhupura and Faisalabad’s adjoining areas, rains and floods had hit crops of corn, rice and vegetables. They said that floods have wreaked havoc in several areas of Punjab, destroying standing crops over hundreds of thousands of acres, killing livestock and washing away thousands of villages, bringing down production of major crops, leading to shortage of food and other commodities besides increase in their prices. Agri Forum Pakistan chairman Ibrahim Mughal said that cotton, sugarcane and rice plantations were damaged by the heavy showers, causing losses of millions collectively to the farmers.

He stated that widespread damage to the rice and cotton belt, as rice fields were submerged while overflowing Chenab and Jhelum rivers swept away the cotton crop in the southern Punjab, resulting in limited supply of cotton to ginning factories and short supply of cane to sugar mills.

Akbari Mandi whole sale market dealers stated that supply of basmati rice both for export and local consumption has dropped by almost 50 per cent due to the ravaging floods. Due to sufficient available stock in market, the short supply of paddy has not increased the rate so far which is stable yet.