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Not everybody’s cup of tea: Many in Pakistan are left out as tea prices surge

Pakistanis' plight continues Photo: @ZiauddinY/Twitter)

Drinking a humble cup of tea in Pakistan is now nothing less than luxury. Amid the rapid devaluation of the Pakistani rupee, tea traders shocked the citizens as they hiked up prices by (Pakistani) Rs 100 for a 900 gram branded packs. But the quantum of hike is larger – (Pakistani) Rs 200 —  for a kilo for loose tea. Pakistan is the largest importer of tea in the world.

As per reports, Pakistan’s tea imports cost $596 in 2021.

While Pakistan has underlined the need to grow more tea in the country to reduce imports, nothing has moved in that direction.

“Unprecedented food prices amid squeezing incomes have already deprived the majority of households to afford decent breakfast, a fresh hike in tea rates both branded and loose would further make it difficult to manage a cup of tea,” local newspaper Dawn said.

Tea production in Pakistan has not increased despite it having favourable weather conditions for growing this important beverage.

The devastating floods last year added to the problem as several crops got damaged.

Last year, Islamabad, in a bid to save precious foreign exchange, even urged people to drink less tea. Prices of tea have been continuously increasing in the crisis-hit South Asian nation.

But the recent sharp spike will be tough for the people in the country.

According to local newspaper Dawn, on an average a branded 170-gram pack of tea now costs (Pakistani) Rs 350 in the country. With the surge in prices, illegal sourcing of tea could rise, as well.

What is worse is that the price of the beverage could rise further in the coming months.

Pakistan, which is among the seven countries where per capita consumption of tea has been increased, imports this essential beverage primarily from Kenya, Vietnam, Rwanda, Uganda and China.

Tea is a popular beverage not just in Pakistan but across South Asian nations. India is among the top producers and exporters of tea.

Pakistan stopped importing tea from India after the Pulwama incident when New Delhi withdrew the most favoured nation (MFN) status accorded to the South Asian nation.

While the business community in Pakistan have been highlighting the importance of resuming trade with India to cut costs and resurrect the sagging economy, Islamabad showed no urge to move on this track.

“Local people continue to suffer due to the government’s mismanagement but who cares..For Pakistan, it is politics first,” said a citizen who lives outside the country.

Also read: Pakistanis fear hunger pangs after massive floods damage crops