Tomato prices still high despite imports, says Mian Zahid Hussain

President Pakistan Businessmen and Intellectuals Forum (PBIF), President All Karachi Industrial Alliance (AKIA), Senior Vice Chairman of the Businessmen Panel of FPCCI and former provincial minister, Mian Zahid Hussain on Monday said tomato prices are not receding despite imports due to profiteer mafia.

The important issue of food security should not be left to profiteers and middlemen, therefore, the federal and provincial governments should join hands for effective monitoring of vegetables, he said.

Talking to the business community, the veteran business leader said that there should be a monitoring system like that of important crops to keep prices stable, ensure availability and look after the interests of growers and consumers.

The former minister noted that last year the farmers were selling tomato at Rs3-4 per kg in Sindh while tomato smuggling in August damaged the poor farmers of Baluchistan, therefore, the government must take steps to safeguard the rights of masses and planters.

The price volatility despite imports not only point towards profiteering but also the fact that imports will not resolve the problem. The government should take steps to enhance per acre yield to cater for increasing demand.

The production of tomato is stagnant at 5-6 lakh tonnes, 30 to 40 percent production of vegetable is lost due to supply side constraints and lack of proper storage facilities while smuggling is also an issue.

He said that onion, tomato, and potato are an important part of the diet of people in Pakistan on which there should be no compromise.

Calling for strict action against profiteers, he said that the government would not have delayed the decision to import tomato from Iran if there was a system of monitoring in place which created a panic like situation across the country.

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