Though still undecided on the Indian offer of $5 million aid, flood devastated Pakistan has started importing potatoes from India amid reports that rising waters have washed away the bulk of country's kharif crop.
The production of vegetable crop along with cereals and foodgrains has been severely hit by the unprecedented floods and media reports say that the country is running an acute shortage of farm produce shooting the prices sky high.
The imported potatoes will be auctioned in Lahore's vegetable market.
The first consignment of Indian potatoes, comprising about 25 trucks, arrived in Lahore via the Wagah land border on Monday.
Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province, one of the regions hit hardest by the floods triggered by heavy monsoon rains, has traditionally been the main source of red potatoes during July and August.
This year's crop has been ruined by the floods, giving rise to apprehensions of a shortage of potatoes in the coming days.
Haji Shahjahan, President of the Wholesale Vegetable Welfare Association, said, "In order to curb the rising prices of potatoes, Indian potatoes have started reaching the country.
Monday's consignment was the first of a series of imports.
Other large imported quantities are on their way and are likely to reach during the current week."
Shahjahan said potato prices had already surged in the wholesale and retail markets and a 100-kg sack’s price has soared to Rs4,500.
The nationwide supply of imported potatoes will begin after the auction in Lahore, he said.
The imports are likely to help stabilise potato prices in Pakistan’s markets, easing financial pressure on consumers already groaning under the impact of rampant inflation, traders said.
The prices of a majority of fruits and vegetables surged in the Pakistani market during the past week mainly due to the devastation of crops by floods in major producing areas of Sindh, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Punjab and Balochistan provinces.