RAWALPINDI  - With the increased demand and high sale of dry fruits during cold weather which is nowadays on its peak, the rates of dry fruits are noticing upward trend.

With the advent of harsh winter in twin cities, Rawalpindi and Islamabad  the demand for dry fruits has increased manifold and the prices have also gone up beyond the reach of low income groups as apart from regular shop-keepers in the city markets of the twin cities the dry-fruit vendors have significantly hiked the prices.   Nuts is being sold in the city market at Rs. 280 to 320 per kg, Grams at Rs. 150 and 160/kg, varieties of Almonds at Rs. 360, 450 and 550/kg, similarly varieties of Kernel at Rs. 700, 800 and 900/kg, Pistachio with and without shell at Rs. 1000 and 1600/kg respectively, Walnut at Rs. 250 to 320/kg, dried-up dates at 180 to 200/kg, Pine nut (Chilgoza) at Rs. 2000 to 2500/kg while Mewa is being sold at Rs. 400 and 500/kg and peanut at Rs 160 to 180 per kg in the open market.

The shopkeeper and dry fruit vendors have raised prices of dry fruits and charging exorbitant rates as there is no mechanism to control prices of such items.

A dry fruit vendor said that the dry fruit dealers use to store dry fruits, which result in shortage of the commodities in the market and thereby leading to increasing prices. He, however, said that this is only one reason of price hike adding that there are several other factors leading to increasing prices during the winter season. The prices of dry fruits including Almond, pistachio, walnut, pine nut (chilghoza), date, cashew nut (Kaju), dried apricot, coconut, fig and peanut increase in winter season as these are mostly demanded during the winter season. Most of these fruits are grown in hilly areas like Northern Areas, Azad

Jammu and Kashmir (AJK), Balochistan, FATA and NWFP.  Some dry fruits items including pine nut (Chilghoza) are imported from Afghanistan while main varieties of Almonds are Iranian and cost heavily which is main cause of increase in prices of these commodities.

A dry fruit shop owner, Ahmed in Tench Bhatta told APP that people use  dry fruits mostly in winter season to get some relief from cold which increases demand besides due to price hike of all other commodities, the rates of dry fruits especially nowadays are noticing upward trend.

On the other hand, the buyers complain that the prices of dry fruits this year have shot up and became out of their reach. However, when contacted a vendor said that they themselves get these fruits at high rates from wholesalers.

It is pertinent to mention here that the rates of different markets of the town are different, which shows that there is lack of price control system in the open market.