Pakistan will be importing tomatoes from Iran to manage the shortage in Karachi.
Tomato prices shot up to Rs300 per kilo in Karachi after a shortage developed due to excess rain in Sindh destroying a majority of the tomato fields. The issue became a hot topic as consumers were horrified by the exorbitant prices. The government has now granted seven companies in Quetta permits to import 4,500 tons of tomatoes from Iran for three to four weeks.
The Fruit and Vegetable Association confirmed that the permits have been issued.
Iranian tomatoes will begin entering the market from today and prices are expected to drop.
Traders, however, say that because these tomatoes come via the Afghanistan route, they still cost them Rs200 per kilogramme. “As these tomatoes are coming to Pakistan through the Afghanistan route, a 40-tonne truck of tomatoes costs us Rs1 million,” said Saddam Athar Khan, secretary of the Vegetable Import Association. “The government should directly import tomatoes from Iran.”
If tomatoes come directly from the Iran-Pakistan Taftan border, their prices would be reduced to half, he added.
The government had allowed the trade of tomatoes during a meeting of importers with top officials of the Ministry of National Food Security, Ministry of Commerce and other authorities on November 14.
The problem will only be solved by growing new fields in other parts of the country. “Fields of tomatoes and other vegetables in Sindh were destroyed due to rains,” said a trader, Khalid Akbar. Things will get better from next month after the produce enters the next round of market, he said.