The tomato farmers in Madhya Pradesh have put forth a unique barter deal to the Prime Minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan, providing him with an opportunity to get tomatoes if he returns Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK) and apologises for the past sins committed by his country against India.
Amidst the unprecedented economic crisis bedevilling Pakistan, the citizens are suffering from high inflation as prices of essential commodities, especially vegetables previously imported from India such as tomatoes are hitting the roof. Following the abrogation of Article 370, Pakistan had unilaterally snapped all trade ties with India, triggering prices of tomatoes to skyrocket in its local vegetable markets.
The farmers of Jhabua from Madhya Pradesh used to export tons of tomatoes to Pakistan before the deterioration of relationship between the two countries. However, the cancellation of trade with Pakistan has adverse impact on the farmers who have come up with the novel idea of writing a letter to the Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan.
They have advised Imran Khan to give back Pakistan-occupied Kashmir to India, hand over terrorist Hafiz Saeed and underworld don Dawood Ibrahim, make an apology for “past sins” and take tomatoes from them. The farmers have posted their letter addressed to Khan on Twitter, tagged Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Pakistan embassy in the post.
The letter read, “If the Pakistan PM accepts our demand, our district unit would think about recommencing exports and would exhort the government of India to continue supplies.” Tomatoes were sold at Rs 400 to 500 a crate(around 25 Kgs) by the farmers of Jhabua when the relation between India and Pakistan were normal.
The farmers also organised a protest in Jhabua on Sunday wherein they shouted “PoK do-Tamatar lo” (Give PoK, take tomatoes). An elderly farmer who took part in the protest said, “We heard people in Pakistan are paying Rs 300/400 per Kg for tomatoes. If Pakistan PM Imran Khan considers tendering an apology for his country’s past sins, we may to consider thinking of resuming the tomato exports to Pakistan.”
Tomatoes in Pakistan have become such a rare and privileged commodity that the tomato farm owners in Pakistan are deploying armed guards to prevent their farms being robbed by thieves.
Ever since the ban on import of tomatoes from India, prices of tomatoes in local vegetable markets in Pakistan have hit the roof. According to the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics, the average price of tomato in Pakistan hovered around Rs 180/Kg with several parts of the country witnessing the tomatoes being sold at a whopping Rs 300/Kg. A few days back tomatoes were being sold at Rs 320/Kg in Karachi.