Rising Food Prices – A Silent Tsunami?

Posted on May 22, 2008
Filed Under >Owais Mughal, Economy & Development, Poetry, Society, Urdu
Total Views: 34700

Owais Mughal

Many people are calling the recent inflation of food prices world wide a silent tsunami. As we have covered it at ATP before, Pakistan is also facing this crisis. In case of Pakistan it can also be argued that the cause of inflation here is as much internal (e.g. Govt policy and food hoarding) as it is external (e.g. oil prices, world rice price). Before the topic gets too serious, how about this ‘sher’ which remains one of my favourites.

A friend recently forwarded me the food price list of a ‘bachat bazaar’ of Pakistan. It is an eye opener. That sample price list and the translation of above Urdu ‘sher’ for our English readership is below (next page).

Price List of Korangi Crossing Bachat Bazar and Bhittai Colony Market for the week ending on May 19, 2008:


Potato Rs12/Kg,
Tomato Rs15/Kg,
Onion Rs10/Kg,
Cucumber Rs15/Kg,
Pumpkin Rs25/Kg,
Cabbage Rs20/Kg,
Cauliflower Rs30/kg,
Peas Rs20/Kg,
Ladyfinger Rs25/Kg,
Spinach Rs15/Kg

Following photo shows a man in Karachi walking past by a flashy billboard after securing a bag of wheat flour from a Government subsidized utility stores. (Photo AP, May 15, 2008)


Beef boneless Rs210/kg,
Beef with bones Rs180/kg,
Chicken Rs180/kg,
Mutton Rs300/kg


Gram pulse Rs58/kg
Mash pulse Rs64/kg
Rice (Kernel) Rs105/kg
Rice (Saila) Rs95/kg
Rice (Tota) Rs55/kg
Ghee Rs120/kg
Flour Rs26/kg
Sugar Rs26/kg

There are daily news appearing in National media where police is discovering large quantities of wheat and other commodities hoarded by all kinds of people and business interests. If the prices continue to rise like this then people will definitelt come out on the streets. May be some early signs of people’s frustration coming out on streets in various forms e.g. here and here is a pre-cursor to a bigger tide that may follow if a common man’s misery is not addressed.

Here I also want to quote the words of an American agronomist and winner of nobel peace prize Dr Norman Ernest Borlaug who was instrumental in the green revolution of 60s. He said:

One can not built peace on empty stomach and human misery

And now a non-poetic translation of Urdu poetry given in black-and-white at the top goes like following. I apologize in advance because translation of Urdu poetry by an un-experienced hand like me will totally destroy its beauty. Hopefully the message gets conveyed:

As pulses and vegetables are getting expensive
What is left for my beloved to do in the Kitchen?
Now our relationship has reached a point
Where I say ‘love love’ and she replies ‘Onion Onion’

Urdu Poetry Credits: I don’t know who is the poet of above ‘sher’. If someone let us know then we will be very glad to credit the poet here.

18 responses to “Rising Food Prices – A Silent Tsunami?”

  1. Rafay Kashmiri says:

    @Navid Haqqi,
    I should’nt doubt good intentions of your suggestions,

    No.1 Good idea of self imposing Ramadan, but not with
    full & exaggerated ” Iftari”.

    2. Good one
    3. Veg. Garden, OK
    4. Better give up atleast one whole meal, and
    rest to be shared with others, a country known
    worldwide for her gastronomy, should find a
    solution, use masjids, cultural centres for collective
    langars with minimal fees.
    5. Good idea
    6. OK
    7. yes, but only for poors, less-poorer, middle class,
    lower M-Class, and btw,
    what about discos, jam sessions, parties and
    awaarah-gardi, cigarette smoking and junk food ?

    this way you can lose weight, it seems Lahore and
    Karachi have the highest obesity rate.

    The rich should also participate and share.

    The plan is good lets get on with it.

  2. Naved Haqqi says:

    Some suggestions!

    1. All adults 18 years and older declare 3 months of self-imposed Ramadan.
    2. Stay-Home-Mothers to form Muhalla Cooperatives that will purchase all food items on wholesale basis from farms/wholesale markets. Simple way is to budget and pool that money to purchase goods and services on wholesale rates. Committee System (Micro Financing) is already quite prevalent among families, and works on honor system. Same method can be adopted in this case. Set those three months to work out all the modalities and launch the cooperative.
    3. Establish Green Houses: On roof-tops, back-yards, etc.
    4. Give-away food that you planned to prepare for a get together or a party, to families that you know are in trouble.
    5. Create extra income opportunities for your family. It only takes an idea to get something rolling. Don’t waste your time and energy in chasing politicians and politics, for that will not put food on your table.
    6. Take pride in working and respect the workers around you and you will start seeing opportunities around you.
    7. Put 17-year-olds (boys and girls) and above to work during their summer vacations or engage them in your family ventures. They are the most useful and energetic resource of your family and very fast learners too.

    Take matters into your own hands, by not going out on streets and rioting and pointing fingures and venting frustrations, but taking measures that can truly give you and your family a long term relieve and prepare you and your family to meet future challenges, for they are only going to increase.

    At the end of the day you have to face the music yourself!

    God bless us all!!

  3. Fakhar says:

    i believe that:

    The time has come when the desperate sparrow will pounce upon the mighty falcon and will over power it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *