Skyrocketing tomato prices

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PRICES of vegetables, especially tomatoes, have unfor tunately gone beyond the reach of common man. Despite the import of tomatoes from the neighbouring Iran, the commodity is still being sold in the domestic markets at exorbitant rates between 250 to 300 rupees per kilogram, depicting clearly that certain elements are bent upon earning high profits by robbing the pockets of the poor people.
The government believes that new crop of tomatoes and onion will reach the market in the next two to three weeks from Sindh but one should not ignore the fact that the locust attack as well as bad weather conditions has severely affected the standing crops of tomatoes, peas and carrots in the province. This would not have happened if the relevant authorities would have acted fast especially against the locust attack and saved the farmers from serious damages. Anyway as the damage has been done, it is yet to be seen how far the domestic tomatoes meet the local demand. While assessing the total demand, the government should allow sufficient import of tomatos and other vegetables. In addition, there is need to put in place a strict price control mechanism and for this the Commission-ers and the Deputy Commissioners at the district level will have to play their part to save the people from the cruel hands of profiteers and hoarders. Strict action and penalties should be imposed on such elements. Then most im-portantly, we have been stressing in these columns that the farmers should be extended full facilities and incentives in order to ensure food security. We are considered an agrarian economy but it is lamentable that we are importing most of the products including vegetables and edible oil from abroad to meet the domestic demand. The country will continue to face economic challenges until and unless this trend is reversed. Our authorities should think out of box and ensure robust development of the agriculture sector by introducing the latest technology and diversification. Such steps need to be taken which not only make the country self-sufficient but which also enables it to export products abroad and earn valuable foreign exchange.

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