KARACHI: Heavy monsoon rains and subsequent floods have opened new sales prospects for commodity traders as political parties, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), wealthy individuals and traders gear up efforts to lift rations for the flood victims.

Essential commodities including pulses, rice, sugar, tea, wheat flour, powdered milk, etc are now in high demand. Other relief items also include medicines, soaps, mosquito nets, pillows, water coolers, six-litre water bottles, and slippers, while toffees and biscuits are being sent for the children.

At a time when the prices of almost all the essential commodities, barring sugar, have reached beyond the reach of many people, wholesalers have been offering paltry discounts to various political parties and NGOs on lifting bulk quantities.

A number of shopkeepers at wholesale hub Dandia Bazaar have extended their business timings due to huge demand for food items.

Private sector more active than government in saving flood-hit people from starvation

A commodity trader said that people are lifting five kg each of flour and rice; three kg of sugar; two kg each of gram pulse and moong; 250 grams each of tea and milk powder; two kg of ghee; one packet of salt and 250 gram of soap at a price of Rs 3,660 for a ration bag.

“In this difficult time, this is an ideal ration pack so far for the flood victims,” he said, adding that the above package is enough for five to seven family members for at least 15 days. As per the rate quoted by him, the quality of food appears to be average rather than high due to pricing issues.

“Floods have increased demand by 25 per cent for various essential food items,” Rauf Ibrahim, the chairman of Karachi Wholesalers Grocers Association (KWGA), told Dawn, adding that traders are offering a 5pc to 10pc discount on heavy lifting of commodity stocks.

The KWGA chief said the additional demand has emerged at a time when the cost of living for many people has already reached an alarming level owing to the meteoric rise in food prices and utility bills.

However, he said individuals and the private sector are more active than the provincial and federal governments in rescuing flood-hit people from starvation.

“I cannot predict how long the relief efforts by people from various walks of life will continue to ensure regular food supplies to the victims residing in makeshift facilities or at roadsides,” he said, fearing that these efforts can only sustain for the next two to three months.

He believes that the provincial and federal governments must take responsibility for providing special care for flood victims who will need at least one or two years to recover and return to normal life.

Mr Ibrahim said the price of rice 386 is now Rs100-125 per kg as compared to Rs60-70 in January 2022, while the Basmati Kernel price is now Rs320 as compared to Rs180 per kg. Basmati (broken) now carries prices of Rs140-170 as compared to Rs110-130 per kg.

The price of masur, moong, mash and gram pulse is now quoted at Rs320-360, Rs230-280, Rs380-420 and Rs240-300 per kg as compared to Rs210-240, Rs180-220, Rs260-300 and Rs160-200 per kg in January.

Published in Dawn, September 11th, 2022

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