Rising Food Prices – A Silent Tsunami?

Posted on May 22, 2008
Filed Under >Owais Mughal, Economy & Development, Poetry, Society, Urdu
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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. Mustafa Kemal says:

    Bush says that increasing level of living standard in China and India are real culprits for high food prices.

    Ah! Indians again…

  2. Rafay Kashmiri says:


    Musharraf failed, already failed is known,
    but, are you sure the nation passed thru ???

    its time we should ” read the wall ”

    Musharraf deserves the nation, or
    the nation derserves musharraf ??

    the rest is bla bla bla bla bla bla

  3. ShahidnUSA says:

    Rising food prices is related to rising oil prices.
    Dont know about the local hoarders but what about international oil hoarders. If they dont sell it no matter how big the production is, it would have domino effect on food prices.

  4. sidhas2000 says:


    Thank you for sharing the price index. Can you also add the prices for dairy product (ie. Milk) and Tea.

    Please note that average Pakistani household is made up of 6.5 person. You can imagine what inflation would do to the budget of poor folks when national average household income of 9000 for rural and 5578 ruppees based on 2006 statistics.

    One good site that I have kept using is the FEDERAL BUREAU OF STATISTICS of Pakistan though the statistics are far from statisfactory but provide a glimpse.

    http://www.statpak.gov.pk/depts/fbs/statistics/hie s05_06/table9.pdf

    http://www.statpak.gov.pk/depts/fbs/statistics/hie s05_06/hies05_06.html

    In the past, I used to wonder how one can live or surive on such a meagre income when family is size of ‘Waltons’ but now I shiver having to think of ground realities.

    This is a receipe for disaster. To my countrymen’s resilience and fortitude against insurmountable odds, I bow my head. May Allah help our families and countrymen survive in Pakistan. Indeed this is a silent tsunami!!

  5. Rafay Kashmiri says:

    @ The silent Tsunami, when it starts, don’t forget to put
    the responsibles, hoarders and Mehang Farosh before
    the very Tsunami. Mark my words.

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