Except peanut and black gram, prices of dried fruits have surged up this year, owing to the low production of crops and sluggish supply in market. Prices of all items of these fruits, except peanuts and black gram, which is available at Rs 160 per kilogram, have gone up by 30 to 50 per cent in this winter season, according to survey conducted by Business Recorder here on Saturday. Traders and wholesalers have attributed the prices have touched new peak due to low production, besides imports of most of dried fruits items from other countries.
The peanut demand is very high, due to reasonable price. I sold 10-sac, filled with peanuts weighting 80-kilogram, on daily basis, Hazrat Amin, a dried fruit seller, in local market in Peshawar told this scribe. Dry fruits include dates, apricot, peaches, almond, currants, pine nut, peanuts, pistachios and many more. Almond and peanut are the most favourite and their demand is higher than others. Most of these fruits are grown in mountainous and hilly areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK), Balochistan and Fata.
However, with the increasing demand, dealers and shopkeepers have also raised the prices of dried fruits manifold and their buying has become only a desire for the common man. The poor cannot afford most of dry fruits because their prices are beyond their reach, but peanuts are the most popular item among them as their rates are comparatively low and affordable.
According to survey, the peanut is only being available at a reasonable rate of Rs 160 to Rs 200 per kilogram. It was also revealed that the prices of pine nut have also declined from Rs 2,200 per kg to Rs 1,600 per kg, while peanuts' rates have gone up with 30 per cent increase, which is being sold at Rs 180 and Rs 200 per kg. Good quality shell almonds are being sold at Rs 1000-900 per kg and almonds without shell between Rs 1,200 and Rs 1,600 per kg. The price of walnut has been raised to Rs 300 per kg against last year's Rs 250 per kg whereas walnut meat is being sold at Rs 600-Rs 800 per kg.
The black gram has available at Rs 160 per kg against Rs 120 per kg, while apricot Rs 190 per kg from Rs 150, and other almonds available at Rs 400 from Rs 300 respectively. The buyers demanded of the City District Administration to fix the rates of dry fruits, which are available at multiple prices on the open market. With the advent of winter season, the vendors charged buyers with huge prices in absence of pricing mechanism, they said.
Akram Khan, another dried fruit vendor, said that the sale of dried fruit had fallen by at least 30 per cent this year because of surging prices coupled with a rising cost of living caused by galloping food inflation.
There was some rush in the market for Christmas buying and celebrations and people were mainly buying peanuts and walnuts because of their low rates. Dried fruit is also used in making of various sweet dishes. The peak season of dried fruit sale usually begins from November 15 and ends in February. There is a slight difference between the prices of dried fruit selling at the Saddar bazaar, Ashraf road market and Hashtnagri bazaar.