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Prices of fruits and their sales declined by 40 percent due to boycott

05 June, 2017

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KARACHI: The retail prices of fruits and their sales have declined by 40 percent to 50pc during the three-day boycott of buying fruit. However, wholesale trade remained largely unaffected.

The move was triggered by hundreds of activists using social media sites and civil society urging consumers to suspend buying fruits from Friday to Sunday as retailers were making up to 300 per cent profit on various fruits.

The consumers might have got a big relief over the past three days, but wholesalers-cum-commission agents claimed that they were not badly affected by the boycott.

A random market survey on Sunday revealed that many retailers were sitting idle at the peak time of fruit buying — from Asar to Maghrib. They were offering more discounts on prices to the consumers, which they previously used to deny.

Some frustrated retailers were seen offering 2.5kg of small size sweet melon (kharbooza) at Rs100, which was Rs50-70 per kg ahead of Friday.

The prices of good quality banana came down to Rs 80-100 per dozen from Rs120-150, sapodilla (chikoo) to Rs100 from Rs140-160 per kg and cantaloupe (Garma) to Rs60-70 from Rs80-100.

Retailers said their sales had dropped by 40-50 per cent from Friday onwards as buyers were reluctant to buy fruits even at lower prices.

Instead of succumbing to consumers’ pressure, the retailers attributed fall in retail prices to drop in wholesale prices. “One-day match of ICC Champions Trophy between India and Pakistan on Sunday further depressed our sales,” the angry retailers said. Some of them said they had stopped lifting fruits from the wholesale market while others said they had lowered their procurement from Friday.

Fresh Fruit Traders Welfare Association chairman Zahid Awan claimed that the wholesale rates had come down by only 15-20pc over the past three days and only 10-15pc fruits remained unsold.

The arrival of customers in the wholesale market had fallen by just 15pc, he said, adding that daily sales usually hovered between Rs8 billion and Rs10bn and around 1,000-1,200 trucks loaded with fruits arrived in the Mandi.

Giving some examples, he said the price of average quality Sindhri mango declined to Rs50 form Rs 60-65 per kg, while banana rate dropped by Rs10 to Rs70-110 per dozen depending on the quality. Peach price fell to Rs120 from Rs130 per kg.

Mr Awan said banana and apple – the most sought-after items – were in short supply due to their off season. Apple is arriving from New Zealand, China and Iran.

He stressed the need for fixing the rate of fruits at the growers’ stage because all fruit rates in the world are released in per kg from big farm houses.

However, the price quoted by the market committee, agriculture marketing wing, is different. It quoted good quality Sindhri mango price at Rs73 per kg which was Rs75 per kg ahead of the boycott. The price of banana fell to Rs90 from Rs110 per dozen, while Garma price plunged to Rs50 from Rs60 per kg. The prices of apple from New Zealand, China and Iran dropped to Rs230, Rs165 and Rs140, respectively, from Rs240, Rs180 and Rs160 per kg.

Falahai Anjuman Wholesale Vegetable Market president Haji Shahjehan said the minting of profit by retailers had broken all previous records and the move by civil society and social media activists was a right step to give a lesson to retailers. He said that had the consumers boycotted fruit buying for one complete day, the result would have been much impressive than the current 40-50pc decline in fruit sales and its prices.

He urged the government to set up at least three fair price markets in every district which, according to him, would help curb profiteering to some extent. This will also reduce cost of transportation as new Subzi Mandi is 30km away from the city.

Mr Shahjehan said the provincial agriculture supply and prices department had issued a show-cause notice to Market Committee chairman Ali Ahmed Jokhio on June 1 for failing to perform obligatory duties relating to proper auctions of agriculture produce, fair prices to growers and check on wholesale and retail prices.

Surprisingly, the price checking effort made over the past few years had failed as only 50 to 60 assistant commissioners and mukhtiarkars were assigned the task of checking profiteering.

The failure of the city administration was evident as Karachi Commissioner Aijaz Khan who, instead of initiating a massive crackdown on retailers, came out to support the three-day boycott of expensive fruits.

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