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Imported tomatoes should cool markets Pakistan

After a delay of more than a month, the Pakistani government has finally reached a decision to explore avenues - including the import of tomatoes from Iran - to arrest the skyrocketing prices of the vegetable in the domestic market.

The combination of ill-timed government policies and bad weather have caused disruption in the supply of tomatoes — a kitchen staple — across the country since early October. Tomato prices in the region have shot up due to heavy rains last month.

The average maximum national price of tomatoes was Rs180 per kg, according to the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics; though it is selling at as high as Rs300 per kg in several parts of the country.

As the situation spirals out of control, the Ministry of National Food Security (MNFS) is meeting importers on Wednesday in Islamabad to look into ways of speeding up imports tomatoes from neighboring countries.

“We will consider allowing imports of tomatoes from Iran,” MNFS Federal Secretary Muhammad Hashim Popalzai told Dawn. He said some importers are coming to meet him in this regard. “We will think over it and make a decision in the meeting,” Popalzai added.

It is estimated that a new crop of tomatoes and onions will reach the market in the next two to three weeks from Sindh. In the meanwhile, imports from Iran will help fill the gap to some extent.

[ Rs100 = 0.58 ]

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