KABUL (Pajhwok): Some residents of Kabul complain of skyrocketing onion and tomato prices during the holy month of Ramadan, saying they cannot afford to buy the basic kitchen items.
The hike in onion prices was triggered by unlimited exports to neighbouring Pakistan last year, Kabul-based vegetable sellers said.
Some green grocers in the Kabul Fruit and Vegetables Market said on Wednesday that per seven kilograms of red onion accounted for 450 afs and white onion for 550 afs. The same quantity of tomato sold for 350 afs.
A week ago, per 7 kilograms of red onions sold for 370 afs, the white variety for 450 afs and tomatoes accounted for 280 afs.
The citizens, resenting the escalating rates of onions and tomatoes, demanded remedial measures from the authorities concerned.
Zabihullah, a resident of the Kart-i- Parwan locality of Kabul, said he purchased 7 kilograms of red onions for 400 afs and 3.5 kilograms of tomatoes for 150 afs.
He said: “During the holy month of Ramadan, prices of onion and tomato have gone up. No one can purchase white onions. I asked for its price, it was 600 afs per 7 kilograms.” He urged the municipality to rein in prices.
Maryam, a resident of Fanjsad Family area, said she paid 140 afs for 1.75 kilogram of onions and 100 afs for the same quantity of tomato. The prices were not that high previously, she lamented.
Maryam alleged vegetable suppliers had enhanced prices with the advent of the fasting month and the government must move to control the situation.
Mohammad Raqib, a seller in the Kabul Vegetable and Fruit Market, confirmed having witnessed a rise in prices over the past one week.
Afghanistan exported its onions to Pakistan last autumn, he said, adding the country had been forced into imports.
He recalled: “Pakistan purchased all our onion in the winter. We sold a 112 kilograms bag of onions for 12,240 afs at that time (306 afs per 7 kilograms). The onions that are currently being sold in the markets have been imported them from India or Uzbekistan.”
Mohammad Nadir, a vegetable merchant in the 3rd police district of Kabul, put the price of per 7 kilograms of tomato at 400 afs — up from 280 afs a week ago.
The reason for the increase in prices of such items is the lack of domestic produce, forcing imports from other countries.
Haji Mirwais Hajizada, head of the whole-sellers’ association, explained demand for onion and tomato had soared during Ramadan, but imports remained low. Subsequently, there is a shortage of these items in the market faces and their prices have risen.
He claimed Afghanistan had exported a lot of onion to Pakistan last year and none of the daily-use vegetable was left in the country. As a result, he argued, its price had jumped.
Hajizada referred to Iran heightening the customs duty on tomato exports to Afghanistan.
He noted as imports of the commodities into the country had increased, their prices would fall over the next 10 days or so.
Abdul Salam Jawad Akhundzada, spokesperson for the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, told Pajhwok: “We imported three trucks of onions from Egypt, India and Turkey and supplied them to markets yesterday.”
Given onion and tomato shortages in neighbouring countries, they are not exporting the items to Afghanistan, according to Akhundzada, who said they were to import the vegetables from other places.
He added onions would be harvested in western Farah province and tomatoes in eastern Nangarhar in the near future. The harvest would have a positive impact on the prices of these items, he predicted.