India: Many Kashmiris do without dates

Unlike previous years, the prices of dates have increased in the Kashmir markets in the month of Ramadan, thanks to the major decrease in supply mostly due to suspension of cross LoC (the Line of Control - geographical border) trade. The soaring prices have forced the people of Kashmir to buy less dates.

Bashir Ahmad Sheikh, a wholesale dealer of dates explained that a lower supply of dates this year was responsible for the prices to increase by 15 to 20%.

According to traders, prices of non-branded as well as branded dates have increased by at least 15-20% in the local markets. While last year one kilogram of unbranded dates was sold at Rs 90-100, this year it is sold at Rs 150-200, said the traders.

Farooq Dagga, a dates’ merchant said that there has been some impact due to levy of 12% Goods and Services Tax on the market prices of dates for last couple of years. “While there is an increase around Rs 20–30 per kg due to GST, dates which used to arrive through LoC trade, mostly in form of dry low priced dates, is witnessing a shortage,” said Dagga.

Even Ajwa dates, considered as pious and rich in medicinal value by Muslims across the world, priced anywhere between Rs 2000-2200 per kilogram in the local markets has seen an increase in prices. 40 plus varieties of dates that have arrived in Kashmir for Ramadhan this year which commenced on May 6 have seen an increase in prices proving to be a burden on common people.

Dates merchants at Parimpora fruit mandi told that dates from Oman, Algeria, Iran and Iraq among other Muslim countries also find many buyers in the local market. These varieties which include Rabi, Razan, Kaas, Nawar, Jumar, Barari priced in the range of Rs 150 to 2000 per kg have also seen an increase of 15 – 20%, said another trader.

“Dates from Iraq and Pakistan used to find many takers in the local market but due to the suspension of cross-LoC trade there, supplies have dried up. Even Israel exports dates across the world and this produce used to be also available in the Valley,” Muhammad Saleem Bhat, a fruit merchant said.

[ Rs 100 = 1.29 ]


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