Price hike and Ramzan: On the flip side.
By Abdul Rauf
ISLAMABAD, July 31: There is a lot of hue and cry regarding price hike related to the arrival of the holly month of Ramzan, which generally holds retailers and wholesalers guilty of exploiting people’s religious feelings. But the story is not that simple. The retailers and wholesalers have other side of the picture to show.
“We have very tough competition, in every market; there are four to five fruit and vegetable shops at least. Some people start selling fruit on carts and few set up stalls during this month to earn money. Who can afford to loose customers by increasing price? With this price hike our sale is reduced and it’s our loss too but we can’t do much about it. We buy it at higher rates from the wholesalers in ‘Sabzi Mandi’”, said Imran Khattak, owner of a fruit and vegetable shop in G-10 Markaz.
However, Hanifa Bibi, a housewife, does not agree to this argument as she said, “Authorities prepare a price list every year during Ramzan that list is to be displayed and followed by every shopkeeper but that does not happen. If anyone follows that list they sell category B fruit for the price of Category A. There is competition in the market but that is to make maximum profit and not to facilitate the customers.”
The wholesalers in ‘Sabzi Mandi’ accept that the prices of fruit and vegetables increase in the ‘Mandi’ before and during Ramzan but it’s not their fault. “The farmers also demand a better price as the demand increases. Moreover the increase in the fuel prices and overall inflation makes our cost even higher. A truck driver who demanded 5000 rupees last year is asking for 9000 rupees this year for the same distance and weight. We have no choice but to increase the price a bit.” said Adeel Asghar, a broker in Sabzi Mandi I-10.
Another wholesaler in the same Mandi, Wasim Akram told INFN that supply of fruit and vegetables from farmer to Mandi is not a smooth sailing. He said, “Due to rains during monsoon many acres of cultivated land are usually washed away by flood, the roads and bridges are broken, all this disturbs the supply and increases the cost.”
Every argument sounds worth believing and the price hike issue unfolds itself as a multidimensional and complicated procedure. But the initiator of all the activity, the farmer, claims to get no extra profit out of all this.
Abdul Qudeer, a vegetable farmer, who came from Faisalabad to meet with the brokers in Sabzi Mandi, Islamabad, expressed his concern by saying, “No one is more at risk than a farmer. Harsh weather, unsuitable rains, and other factors can spoil all of our hard work and we end up earning loss only. We have no role to play in demand and supply game as we do not have storage facility. We are at the discretion of brokers.”
Apart from inferring something out of this blame game, consumers, who are the center of all business activity, must play their active role that can be the most effective step in this situation. Undoubtedly demand and supply ratio is always vital. A simple reason for price hike is the augmented use of fruit by consumers during the month of Ramzan. If consumers buy the fruit and vegetables that cost less and avoid the high price items, the decline in demand of that item will make seller reduce the price. However government authorities are also expected to play a long-due active role to provide people with some relief to observe Ramzan with fervor and peace of mind.