KARACHI: Dry fruits were once considered as the most common item of every household during the winter season but short production of dry fruits in growing areas of the world during the current winter season and marked decline in the value of local currency against the dollar have pushed them beyond the buying capacity of a majority of consumers in Karachi like elsewhere across the country.
Every year during the winter season, consumers flock in large number to wholesale markets of the port city to make their desired purchases of dry fruits to browbeat the cold season, but this year despite increased intensity of the winter season, the buying activities at almost all wholesale markets were suppressed.
Traders attributed the low buying by the consumers owing to enhanced rates of almost all dry fruits thus compelling consumers to reduce their daily requirements.
One of the wholesale traders replying to a query of the scribe claimed that with the start of the winter season in Karachi, dry fruits buying became an arduous task for majority of consumers as their limited income became a major irritant in fulfillment of their requirements.
Responding to another question, he asserted during the last few years a gradual increase was witnessed in rates of all dry fruits items making it virtually impossible for lower and middle segment of the population to think about visiting dry fruit markets and making choice purchasing.
During a visit to one of the major dry fruit wholesale markets situated at Jodia Bazaar, the rates inquired by the scribe revealed that prices of almost all items have skyrocketed making it virtually impossible for general consumers to limited their purchase to peanut which is also available at higher rates as compared to previous year.
Currently a fine quality one kilogramme (kg) of the item is available at Rs 240 per kg while rest of the items are not less than Rs 400 to Rs 3,000 per kg depending on the quality demanded by the consumers.
Wall nuts rates have peaked to Rs 400 to Rs 450 per kg as compared to previous year price of Rs 320 to Rs 350 per kg.
Similarly price of cashew nuts have also gone up to Rs 1,100 to Rs 1,200 per kg as compared to Rs 1,000 per kg the previous year.
Good quality raisins' prices during the current winter season have also risen to Rs 300 to Rs 320 per kg from Rs 280 per kg last year.
Pine nuts price which was previously priced at a very high rate in the market at Rs 2,000 to Rs 2,400 per kg in main city markets, has further gone up to Rs 2,500 per kg to Rs 2,800 per kg.
Fig rates have also jumped to the level of Rs 500 to Rs 600 per kg as compared to previous year's rates of Rs 400 to Rs 500 per kg.
Similarly almond is currently available in the market at around Rs 1,400 per kg which is quite high as compared to previous rate of Rs 1,000 per kg.
People are consuming cashew nuts arriving from India, Indonesia and Bangkok while salted pistachio is coming from Iran and Afghanistan.
The price of high quality dried dates (Basra, Iraq) showed no change at Rs 400 per kg in the last one year. Medium quality dry dates from Sindh areas are available at Rs 160 to Rs 200 per kg.
Quality peanuts are arriving in bulk from Parachinar while second quality from Sukkur and other areas of Sindh. Its medium range quality is available at Rs 180 to Rs 200 per kg.
A shopkeeper at Jodia Bazaar in his reaction to the higher current rates of the dry fruits blamed the situation on depressing value of the local currency against the dollar.
"Unless the rupee does not gain strength, prices of all commodities imported, would continue rising and ultimately consumers would be at the receiving end," he added.
In view of high price of dry fruits, buyers are generally observed confined to make purchases of pea nuts which is comparatively low cost item well within their buying reach.
Zafar Khan, owner of a retail dry fruit outlet situated at Empress Market in Saddar area said, high prices of dry fruits have dispelled many buyers during the current winter season as previous year healthy presence of consumers approached the busy retail market for buying dry fruits of their choice.
He said sales have been down by 25 to 30 percent as compared to last year due to shrinking buying powers of consumers.
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