Pakistan looking to India for vegetables

The rains in Sindh have resulted in losses of around Rs 256 billion to major kharif crops and vegetables.

Last Updated: Sep 18, 2011, 16:35 PM IST

Islamabad: Pakistan is likely to import
vegetables from India due to a shortage caused by devastating
rains and floods in Sindh, one of the country`s main
agricultural regions, a leading trader has said.

"The country is likely to import vegetables from India in
October, like last year, when floods had destroyed vast
swathes of farmland," said Haji Shah Jehan, the President of
the Welfare Association of Wholesale Vegetable Markets in
Karachi.

Vegetable and fruit supplies have dropped by 75 per cent
and prices have shot up by nearly 100 per cent in the
wholesale market due to heavy monsoon rainfall and flooding,
he said.

"The natural calamity has destroyed the agricultural
supply chain," Shah Jehan told The News daily.
About 800 to 1,000 trucks of fruits and vegetables arrive
at the Karachi wholesale market every day, but after the rains
began, the number dropped to 200 to 250 trucks.

The situation will become clearer in a week or two when
floodwaters recede in the vegetable-growing districts of
Sindh, he said.

Prices of vegetables were affected more than fruit, as
supplies from the Balochistan, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab
provinces were unaffected.

Vegetables are mostly grown in Sindh, which was badly hit
by the recent rains.

The rains have disrupted the supply of vegetables from the
Thatta, Tando Allahyar, Tando Muhammad Khan, Badin, Sanghar,
and Mirpurkhas districts.

Shah Jehan noted that the vegetable-growers were small
farmers and asked the government to provide them relief in the
form of a subsidy on seed and fertilisers.

The rains in Sindh have resulted in losses of around Rs
256 billion to major kharif crops and vegetables.

Only sugarcane crops survived the rains, while cotton and
paddy were the worst-affected crops.

Vegetables and animal fodder that were being grown in the
fields were also washed away by the flood waters.

Besides a decline in supply, the rain has affected
business at Karachi`s wholesale market, with Shah Jehan
complaining that the `Sabzi Mandi` had become unhygienic after
rains in the city.

"The market is filthy after the rains. The air reeks with
rotting fruits and vegetables, the gutters are choked and
there is mud everywhere," Shah Jehan said.

The wholesale market for fruits and vegetables on the
Super Highway, on the outskirts of Karachi, is the biggest in
Pakistan and is spread over 100 acres.

The market supplies fruits and vegetables to the country`s
largest city, with a population of around 18 million, and
normally caters to export demand as well.

The deluge in Sindh has killed over 300 people and
affected six million at a time when the southern province is
still grappling with the impact of last year`s unprecedented
flooding.

PTI