Some businesses go into a month-long hibernation during Ramadan but the fasting month also means brisk business in some food items generally not consumed for the rest of the year. Abdul Mohamin reports how Ramadan business is surging.
The end of the day’s fasting at sunset sets up a magical feasting frenzy in mostKashmirihomes, streetsand mosques. The food on the plate is responsiblefor driving an active market ofcertain Ramadan specific food items.
Even though during this month of fasting the business of many eateries and street vendors is badly hit, a parallel market of Ramadan-specific foods takes over. Eatables like dates, sooji, coconut, resins, dairy products,fresh fruits and drinks keeps the supply chain and retail sector busy during this month.
From rich homes to the poor ones,everyone wants something extra on his plate at Iftar time. In many homes the preparations for iftarbegins early.On the roadside stalls too, that emerge just before the Magrib prayers outside the mosques,delicious eatablesare ready in advance.
The fast is mostly broken by eating dates or drinking water with Kashmirisalso preferring a milk shake of ThukmeRehan(bubrebuiole). Many take some sweet treats likefirini and fruit salads besides tasting a roadsideKulfi (icecream) in the present hot conditions.
For food outlets starting from your street cornergrocery stores to big outlets, Ramadan is a big month not only in terms of blessings but business as well of these selected food products. While the main dealers too cherish this timeas Ramadan brings aditionalsale in food products that are not much sought during the rest of the year.
Showkat Ahmad Mirwho runs a wholesale business of cereals and oils, is more busy placing orders for Sooji and coconut.Sooji is the basic ingredient used to make a local sweet dish called firini that is garnished with dry fruits, particularly coconut. It’s also the dish distributed inin neighborhoods.
“Hundreds of tons of this stuff comefrom Jammu, while copra (coconut) comes from Delhi mandi where it is procured from South Indian Sates,” saysMir .
Like Mir, Farooq Ahmad, who operates from Parimpora fruit mandi, one of hubsof fruit trade in the valley, deals indates. He says thatdates are traded in croresand thousands of tons are importedas it is the preferred choice for the people to break their fast with.
“The customers now prefer the packaged ones imported from several middle eastern and African countries, while a low-priceddate is imported from Pakistan and Iran,” he says.
Nisar Ahmad Khan, a consumer says that, the prices have shown a steep increase in almost all the food products and the Ramadan specialties too have not remained untouched.
Altaf Ahmad who runs a grocery store at Zainakadal says that the only product the people buyfrom his store isbabrebaule, but its production has dwindled and it is now imported from Iran.
“The local drink is now in stiff competition to packaged beverages and companies grab the markets in advance speculating big business,” he says.
A new product that is gaining market is the sewayyan and its recipes too are being prepared much like the local firini.
In this rush of feasts, many may be rushing to the supermarkets, but majority simply can’t afford it. Instead they prefer their supplies from the traditional outlets that have been serving them from long.
During Ramadan the government also usually increases rationed quota of sugar for poor consumers who depend on the public distribution system.