ISLAMABAD: As the holy fasting month of Ramadan starts, federal and provincial governments in Pakistan announce dedicated Ramadan markets with cheap rates on eatery items to facilitate the locals with a healthy and affordable means to practice their religious rituals of day long fasting for 30 days.
But there is a well-organized mafia, which takes Ramadan as the month of making profits through increased sales and illegal soar of prices, especially on fruit items, which are used extensively on daily basis during Ramadan.
For year, this mafia has been running this routine, thus making accessibility of fruits almost impossible for the locals, who are forced to buy expensive fruits. The fruit market associations and the suppliers, work in-tandem in creating strategies of establishing markets and sell fruits on increased prices, that do not fluctuate and stay consistent across the country.
But the year 2017 is not going to be the same as the locals have opted for the most active mode of communication to the masses and fastest way of outreach to the world.
Fruit Boycott Campaign
A social media campaign, initially launched from Karachi Pakistan, calling on Pakistanis to refrain from buying fruits for at least three days, starting from 2nd June to 4th June 2017, has kicked off with a bang Friday, when locals will stay away from buying fruits and make sellers suffer to their self-soared prices with no buyers and a stock piled up of no use.
With no buyers of fruits, the profiteers will be forced to reduce the artificial price hike, which they created as the stock of fruits, will not earn them anything.
“The fruit boycott campaign will reduce the demand for the commodity and it will result in the decrease of prices” the consumer rights groups say
This is one of a kind protest, unusual for Pakistan, where the normal definition of protests comes from roadblocks, outrages, violence, media attention and slogan chanting.
The “Fruit Boycott Campaign”, is a first of its kind because it does not comply with the above mentioned definition of protest. The campaign is non-violent, non-political, no play cards and banners required, no protesters standing on the sides of the roads or even blocking roads required and no protests to be staged outside media houses, press clubs and main landmarks for public and media attention are mandatory in this.
Using awareness through social media campaign including Face book, Twitter and Whatsapp messages, the campaign has already spread across to thousands as many companies have announced of not buying fruits for at least three days as part of their support towards the Fruit Boycott Campaign.
The campaign initially started from circulation of the following messages on Whatsapp.
“The final action to get cheap fruit is to resort to boycotting. It’s very easy, just cook curry, break your fast with dates and don’t buy any fruit for three days and you will see that within days when the fruit will start decay and these cunning profiteers will sell their fruit below the real price.”
Since then, there has been a series of posts in English and Urdu language, spread across the social media, calling on people to make this effort, a success.
“you don’t know your importance as a consumer because you have the power to compel the fruit seller to bring the price down”
“3-day boycott will dent the seller for weekend premium price sale when the most consumer does the weekly grocery for the household. It may sound tough but only YOU as a consumer can force the seller to be on knees, not everything is government job you too have a duty towards society and your fellow countrymen, make the wise choice be an active part of the fruit boycott campaign,”
Prices of fruit and vegetable witness an increase of up to 40 per cent during the fasting month of Ramadan, which the locals are forced to comply with as both comes under the daily basic necessities required during Sehr and Iftar.
However, there are some media users, who are against the complete boycott, as they believe it will hurt the small sellers, who run their lives on daily wages and area primarily dependent on selling fruits and vegetables.
“The Fruit Boycott Campaign will hurt the small fruit sellers and not big businesses or the middle man”
“Forget about the hike in fruit prices and think for a moment that these poor fruit sellers deserve your charity,”
“Why only fruit boycott? They should boycott petrol, food items and electricity as they have all become expensive.”
Fruit sellers are of the view that locals cannot afford to stay away from buying fruits and vegetables and that the campaign will not have a major impact on the sellers.
They also blame the suppliers for selling fruits on higher prices, which they say makes them increase the prices also.
“These people think that we increase prices at our own will. But the fact is that the suppliers give her these items on higher prices. So, we have to sell them at higher prices. We cannot buy expensive items and sell them at lower prices.”
Other sellers say, the three day campaign will end and locals will have to buy fruits and vegetables on even higher rates going forward.
“First, I am sure it’s not going to have so much impact but in case it is successful and my fruit goes to waste due to the boycott. “I will sell it for the much higher price after the fruit boycott campaign ends”