Vegetable growers facing tough time over falling demand


Small-scale growers of vegetables in the outskirts of Karachi find it hard to pay the debts they had taken for growing tomatoes, owing to the coronavirus lockdown.
Durrani, who hails from Orangi Town, is one of the small-scale cultivators who have invested in the agriculture sector tan. In November last year, the growing season of tomatoes, when he acquired these loans from commission agents in the fruit and vegetable market in Karachi, the prices of tomato across the country were all-time high, as much as Rs400 per kilogram.
This season, Durrani expected that he would cover his expenditures and be able to clear his debts from the past seasons when the crops had been severely damaged by rains. But soon after the emergence of coronavirus cases in Pakistan, the federal government announced closures of borders with neighbhouring countries, including Afghanistan, Iran, India and China. Likewise, all big cities have been shut down by the provincial governments, gatherings of four or more persons are not allowed, and all inter-provincial public transport transportation is banned.
These restrictive measures have resulted in a steep decline in the prices of tomatoes and have forced Durrani to sell tomatoes for as low as one rupee a kilo in the market, that too in case he finds transport to supply vegetables to the market. According to the price list issued by the Karachi commissioner on Saturday, the price of first-class tomatoes is Rs15 a kilo in the fruit and vegetable market, Rs16 in the Bachat bazaars and Rs17 at vegetable stalls. Likewise, the price of second-class tomatoes is Rs10 per kg in the market, Rs11 in the Bachat bazaars, and Rs12 at vegetable stalls.
The demand for the locally-grown vegetables is less than the supply. These days, the demand-and-supply formula doesn’t work because growers cannot stock ready crops of vegetables in the fields for the demand to go up. Also, fresh vegetables need a steady supply in both cases whether the demand goes up or down.

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