On Friday, protesters in Kalat, Balochistan, stopped trucks with tomatoes and threw them away because the government had decided to bring them in from Iran. Several farm owners and farmers got together in the town of Mangochar and used boulders and barricades to block the Quetta-Karachi national highway, which also stopped traffic. While chanting slogans, they said they wouldn’t let tomatoes from Iran come into the country because their own crops were ready to go to market.
They also stole or damaged tens of thousands of kilogrammes of food and threw the crates out onto the road. Officials from the local government and the Balochistan Levies arrived quickly and tried to keep the protesters in line. The Balochistan Zamindars Association, which planned the protest, condemned the rioters for destroying the tomatoes and distanced itself from the act of vandalism.
Haji Abdul Aziz, who spoke for the group, said, “We have nothing to do with the incident.” He also said that the protest was meant to be peaceful. The association said that bringing in food from Iran and Afghanistan would hurt local farmers who already have crops that are ready to sell and would cost them money.
It has also asked the government to stop bringing in tomatoes from other countries until the local crop is ready to sell on the market.
During protest & blocking main highway, protesters in #Manguchar #Kalat #Balochistan are disposing/ wasting tomatoes 🍅 & onions imported from neighbouring country #Iran in order to control prices that had hone up because of flood devastation, pic.twitter.com/fF9s1B9a90
— Ibrar Ahmed (@Info_Balochistn) September 8, 2022
In related news, a video that went viral online showed one of the tomatoes. Daud Khilji, the Commissioner of Kalat, said that the suspect was taken into custody after he was recognised in the same video. An investigation is currently going on. He also said that there will be more raids to catch the other vandals.
Several trucks from Iran and Afghanistan brought tomatoes and onions to Pakistan through the Taftan and Chaman border crossings. The local market also saw the prices of both vegetables go down in the local market. The recent flash floods, which destroyed a lot of crops, are to blame for the price increases. Because of this, the government let crops be brought in from neighbouring countries to lower the prices.
The Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) has also stopped charging taxes and fees on the import of tomatoes and onions for three months because of the situation and the need to make sure that people can get the food they need to make their daily meals.