Hyderabad: Expecting a short supply of dates khajoor (dates) in the run-up to Ramadan, traders have started rushing to the Begum Bazaar wholesale market to purchase and stock khajoor. Hyderabad is one of the largest sellers of dates and around 40 odd varieties are sold in stores here.
Right from pushcarts, grocery stores, and big supermarkets, dates are found in abundance during Ramadan. As per tradition, devotees break their day-long fast with dates in the evening. Around 400 trucks of dates arrive at the Begum Bazaar market in the city from various seaports in Mumbai, Chennai, and other ports. The consignments are usually picked up by import-export companies in Chennai, Mumbai, and Port Blair and are later transported across the country.
“Sales have begun since the last few days and people’s search for dates are underway. Before the lockdown, some trucks had arrived and as of now we are selling those stocks,” said Laxmi Narayan Rathi, a trader at Begum Bazaar.
Traders say after the COVID-19 pandemic in the Middle East and lockdowns across the globe, there are fears of delay and shortfall in the supply of dates to the city.
“The dates are mostly imported from Iraq, Iran, Algeria, Tunisia, and Saudi Arabia and we have come to know that the supplies are likely to be affected as there are restrictions due to the pandemic. So in such a scenario, we feel that in the coming days, there will be a gap between demand and supply,” said Raj Kumar Tandon, Proprietor of Kashmir House, Begum Bazar.
Dates come in different varieties and the ones preferred by Hyderabadis are Kimia, Shukkuri, Kupkup, Mariam, Hayani, Barhi, Khadrawy, Safawi, Khudri, and Madhafti.
“Every variety has a unique taste,” says Raj Kumar. The costliest of all the varieties is ‘Ajwa’ which is priced at Rs. 2,000 per kilo in the wholesale market. It is known for its medicinal value too.
A large chunk of the imports is of the ordinary variety priced usually priced at Rs. 45 per kg in the wholesale market and Rs. 60 per kg in the retail segment. This year though its price is expected to be around Rs. 80 to Rs. 100 per kg. Varieties, the ones usually sold between Rs. 100 and Rs. 2,000 a kg, are expected to see an increase in the price of around 20 percent.
Moreover, as the Begum Bazar has already started selling the dates to the retailers, timing, social distancing, and other safety measures are being strictly followed by both traders and consumers.
Pradeep Agarwal, another a trader from that wholesale market said,
“We are not selling any item if the consumer is not wearing a mask or not following the social distancing norms. Even all the wholesalers in the Bazar have tied ropes in front of their shops and asking the consumers not to be in close contact with anyone.
Speaking to siasat.com, police personnel deployed in the market say that they ensure that people visiting Bazar should follow social distancing and wear a mask. Plus, the timings should be adhered to strictly as the market is only open from morning 7:00 AM to 10:00 AM.
Abdul Waheed, a trader at Mir Chowk, mentioned that his shop is stocking up the dates fearing a shortage.
“Whatever stock the shops have has been imported before the lockdown. Now with the demand surging there is an increase in the price and in the coming days, there will be a shortage too,” he said.