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The country has not only enough stocks of spices and pulses but also such staples as rice, wheat and potato

Oct22 - 28, 2001

Pakistan has enough stocks to last for months more so as a downward trend in the commodity market has helped stabilised the prices to the relief of consumers. The consumers may pat their own shoulders for being one of the reasons for the stabilization by avoiding panic buying.

With substantial stocks of such basic daily locally grown edibles as wheat, rice and potato the commodity market comprising local and imported spices and pulses there is no shortage of food and obviously no need to stock. In fact, the importers of spices, which make up the list of most used kitchen items, as well as pulses have resorted to import only the quantities they are able to sell.

The former President of Karachi Chamber of Commerce & Industry, Haji Shafiq-ur-Rehman told PAGE that during last 5 weeks the downward trend in the commodity market has forced the wholesalers to lift only a limited stocks from the importers. Shafiq, a spice importer himself, said that the wholesalers are lifting the quantity of stocks they can sell within three to four weeks unlike the previous practise of lifting a much bigger stocks.

The wholesalers, he said, who previously used to buy 25 sacks of a given commodity now lifting one fourth of quantity due to the slowdown of the commodity market. While this has benefited the consumers it has adversely affected the turnover of the importers and wholesalers, many of whom have to get rid of their stocks below the cost to maintain the cash flow.


He said that the slowing down of the commodity market on the one hand and the eroding of the purchasing power on the other have severely affected the commodity market. The prices of almost all spices except red chilly have gone down substantially during last five weeks. He attributed the increase in red chilly prices from Rs 2,400 per 40 kilograms to Rs 3,200 per 40 kilograms due to decreased production this year which has nothing to do with the prevalent situation.

Pakistan which entirely depends on imported whole spice; except red chilly, turmeric and coriander which are grown locally, the prices of which have fallen substantilly during the period under review. For instance, he said, the price of cinnamon has decreased from Rs 1,200 per kg to Rs 1,000 per kg, cardamom from Rs 360 per kg to Rs 310 per kg, black pepper from Rs 200 per kg to Rs 150 per kg, cinnamon stick from Rs 110 per kg to Rs 100 per kg. Similarly, the wholesale prices of jaifil has gone down from Rs 280 per kg to Rs 250 per kg, jawatri from Rs 600 per kg to Rs 550 per kg, dried ginger from Rs 70 per kg to Rs 65 per kg, clove from Rs 800 per kg to Rs 690 per kg and white zeera from Rs 210 per kg to Rs 180 per kg. The spices named above are an integral part of all Pakistani kitchens irrespective of locality or salary group and no Pakistani dish is complete without any of them.

The wholesale price of beetlenut, a basic ingredient of beetle chewing Pakistanis have also resulted in bringing the average price from Rs 60 per kilogram to Rs 45 per kilogram. He said that the country has enough stocks of imported spices listed above to last between three to five months depending on the particular variety. He said that imported spices meet the demand basically in Karachi and Hyderabad and to a limited extent in Sukkur while the demand in the rest of the country currently is met by the Afghanistan-bound imports under the Afghan Transit Trade (ATT) which found their way back into the country. He said the downtrend in the spice market has resulted in bringing the import orders to a trickle but the existing stocks are enough to meet the demand for next few months.

Asked why despite a surplus stock the price of potato have registered a substantial increase recently he attributed it to lesser release by the wholesalers to help fetch a better price in the Islamic month of Fasting, Ramadan, next month.


The chairman of Karachi Grocers Group, Anees Majeed said that the country has enough stocks of pulses to last a month. He attributed the stabilization of the prices of the pulses, all varieties of which are imported to help supplement the demand, on three factors primarily, namely the absence of panic buying, the erosion of purchasing power to stock and the most important of all, the strengthening of the local currency. The last factor has helped neutralize any and all effects of increase in war risk insurance which increased the cost of pulse imports by $ 7 per tonne or about $ 150 for a 20 foot container which can carry upto 22 tonnes of the commodity.

He also attributed the arrival of fresh local crops of 'moong' pulse in the market and the beginning of arrival of 'maash' pulse from Punjab in the market to help stabilise the prices.

Enough stocks

The country has not only enough stocks of spices and pulses but also such staples as rice, wheat and potato which are abundantly available at prices which have shown an overall declining trend during last five weeks. The absence of panic buying and refusal to stock are welcome sign indeed that the prices would remain stabilised at least for now.