Pakistan hurt badly by floods, looking to India for vegetables

Pakistan hurt badly by floods, looking to India for vegetables

"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.

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