Errant rains, restricted transportation, lockdown owing to the Covid-19 pandemic and unavailability of produce have pushed the prices of vegetables up in the country hitting the common man hard.

With wholesale markets running low on supplies due to disruptions caused by rain and partial lockdowns, prices of staples such as potatoes, tomatoes and onions have risen sharply across the country. Lower output of some consumables and higher fuel costs also add up to the burden that the consumer has to carry.

While people in Delhi are bearing the brunt of an extended monsoon in Maharashtra with tomato prices touching a century per kilo, Kolkata vendors are finding it hard to transport vegetables because of partial lockdown and shutdown of local train services. Where vegetable traders in Chandigarh attribute the vegetable price rise to the short supply from Himachal Pradesh, Bhopal too is facing a short supply of consumables from outside the state.

India Today did a ground reality check in several states on the rising vegetable prices.

Monsoon mayhem in the Capital

During the difficult Covid times, Delhiites are feeling the pinch of price rise in their already stressed wallets. The kitchen budget has been jeopardised due to an increase in the rates of staples like potato, tomato and onion. The potato and onion rates are racing to touch half-century while the prices of tomatoes are about to hit a century in days to come. If market specialists are to believe, this price rise will continue for a few months owing to the extended monsoon in most of the regions across the country.

Wholesale traders from Azadpur Mandi are of the view that untimely rains have increased the problem. Rajendra Sharma, the wholesale trader dealing in potato and onions, told India Today about the current situation existing in the market. He said, “The extended rains in Maharashtra and South India has created a shortage of onions in the market, the wholesale price of onions range between Rs 15 and Rs 25 depending upon the quality of the onions.”

Although potato is selling hotter than onions these days, Sharma explains, “Due to rains in Punjab and Himachal, the early crops have been destroyed and now the market has to wait longer for new crops hence the stockists are releasing less amount in the market, leading to the price rise. Potatoes are selling at Rs 25 to Rs 32 per kg in wholesale markets.” A similar situation is with tomatoes as well, which normally become costlier in Monsoon times and it is selling between Rs 60-90 in retail markets.

But whatever the reason is for the current price rise, home-makers are bearing the brunt. Sarla Gupta from Mayur Vihar shows her disappointment, “In the kitchen – potatoes, onions and tomatoes are the most important ingredients. My son can’t do without potatoes on the menu, so no matter what are the prices, we have to buy them.” Another housewife Rama Khurana from Moti Nagar says, “After Covid we have reduced consumption of non-veg food but if the vegetable prices will keep rising, we have nowhere to go. The government should look into the issue of price rise immediately.”

Restricted transportation in City of Joy cause of sorrow

Vegetable prices have seen a sharp rise in Kolkata due to a combination of factors. The primary issue is that of supply. There is currently a shortage in supply that is triggering cost escalation.

Vendors say the most important factor remains partial lockdown and the shutdown of local train service. Unless local train services resume, supply will not be normal. Another factor that has played a key role is the cyclone Amphan.

The cyclone that ravaged rural Bengal a few months back has not just destroyed produce but even affected cultivation. A lot of agricultural land was inundated, produce was wasted and in some areas, saline water has destroyed the cultivable land.

Whole sellers are ferrying vegetables through private transport which is expensive. The additional cost is being passed on to the final consumer by both the whole seller and retailer.

“We are facing losses. Customers are spending less since we have no option but to pass on the extra cost of transportation on customers. Unless local trains start operations, prices won’t come down. Cyclone Amphan has also destroyed a lot of produce,” said Bappa, a vendor at Bhowanipore in south Kolkata

Discontent among Lucknow buyers and sellers

Prices of vegetables in Lucknow have started to skyrocket even as the coronavirus crisis shows no sign of abating. There is a lot of discontentment amongst both shopkeepers and buyers regarding the inflation in vegetable prices. Now that the prices have almost doubled and in some cases tripled common man has to shell out much more than before.

If vegetable vendors in Lucknow’s Aliganj area are to be believed, because of the prices of staple vegetables like tomatoes and potatoes rising, people hardly buy them now. While radishes were priced at Rs 10/kg, you get one radish for Rs 7-8 now. Prices of staples like potatoes have almost doubled from Rs 20-25 per kg, it has gone up to Rs 45/kg.

“The prices for essential vegetables are sky-high today. I could only get so little in Rs 100. This won’t even cover for a salad, let alone meals,” says a customer at a vegetable vend. Another one added how the government should formulate a way so that less burden falls on the common man, especially because of the ongoing pandemic.

The vegetables are expensive in the wholesale market. And add the transportation cost to it, rising fuel prices. It is bound to reflect on the vegetables we are selling, says a vendor.

Another one ruefully added how the marketplace is less crowded now. Owing to the Covid-19 pandemic, people don’t really go out of the house and we are witnessing low footfall every day, says another vegetable seller.

Chandigarh vendors blame it on short supply from Himachal

The vegetable prices are soaring in entire North India from the last fortnight. Some common vegetables like peas and cauliflower are beyond the reach of the common man as the prices have skyrocketed.

The prices according to the retail traders have increased during the last fortnight. Peas which were being sold at Rs 120 per kg 15 days ago are now available at Rs 150 per kg. Similarly, cauliflower prices doubled from Rs 50 to Rs 100 in two weeks.

Potato prices have also witnessed a rise between Rs 10 to Rs 20 per kg. The popular Chip Sona potatoes were being sold at Rs 25 to Rs 30 per kg last month is now available at Rs 40 per kg. The Pahadi (Himachal) potatoes prices have also witnessed a rise of Rs 20 per kg. These potatoes were available at Rs 30 per kg a fortnight ago and now being sold at Rs 50 per kg.

Two staples – onions and tomatoes – have also seen a sharp rise during the past fortnight. Onion prices have doubled from Rs 20 per kg to Rs 40 per kg. Tomato prices have also increased from Rs 30 to Rs 50 per kg.

While the prices of some vegetables have seen a sharp rise, prices of some vegetables like soya beans and cucumbers have dropped to normal. Cucumber prices reached Rs 40 per kg last week but now available at Rs 20 per kg. Soya bean prices also dropped from Rs 80 to Rs 40. Other vegetables like bell pepper, green chillies, eggplant and bottle gourd are between Rs 30 to Rs 40 per kg.

The vegetable traders attribute the price rise to the short supply from Himachal Pradesh. Some vegetables normally come from Himachal Pradesh during the offseason. Peas, tomatoes, cauliflower and potatoes are being supplied from Himachal which is not able to meet the demand.

“Peas and cauliflower are being procured from Lahaul and Spiti district of Himachal Pradesh. A few trucks reach Chandigarh and some are directly being sent to New Delhi and other markets. Short supply has led to the price rise. Some vegetables like tomatoes are also in short supply due to inclement weather,” says Ashok Gujjar, president, Chandigarh Small Vegetable Traders Association.

The traders, however, hope that the situation will improve after the supplies are available from local Punjab and Haryana farmers. It may take another fortnight of more to bring down the prices.

Kitchen budget disrupted in Bhopal

Tomatoes are selling at anything between Rs 60 to Rs 80 per Kg in Bhopal. This is almost double of what it was selling last week. Among other vegetables, prices of onions and potatoes are on the rise, both selling around Rs 40 per kg.

“Onions, potatoes and tomatoes are the essential ingredients in the kitchen. This is certainly affecting the budget because the prices of onions, potatoes, and tomatoes are increasing. This is our staple diet. The government should do something to bring down the prices,” Nettu Aggarwal a homemaker said while explaining how her budget has been affected.

The prices of leafy greens have stabilised with cabbage selling at Rs 30/kg and okra selling at around Rs 40/kg.

“Prices of green and leafy vegetables have stabilised but prices of tomatoes, onions and potatoes are increasing because of the rains and lack of local supply but hopefully prices will come down soon,” Dalip a vegetable vendor in Bhopal said.

While the resumption of the local supply of fresh vegetables after rains is being attributed as the cause behind the price stabilisation of green vegetables, the rise in prices of tomatoes are being attributed to a dip in supply from outside the state.

Staples join the Rs 100/kilo club in Ahmedabad

An exponential increase in vegetable prices has spoilt the budget of home markers in Ahmedabad. The rising price of greens has left homemakers fuming as even budget-friendly vegetables like eggplant and Coccinea has joined the Rs 100 club. Even Potato prices touched Rs 45 per kg while Onion, another kitchen essential is being sold at Rs 35 per kg.

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Ahmedabad’s biggest APMC Market Jamalpur remained closed for long. However, prices were expected to go down after trading began at Jamalpur APMC. Now, after almost a week of the Jamalpur APMC opening, officials are complaining about the shortage of vegetables in the market and the resultant price hike.

A vegetable vendor in Paldi Mahalaxmi Vegetable market said that the heavy rain in the last week of August stopped farmers from collecting their vegetables and sending them to markets. Most of the vegetable prices are up by 40 to 50%. But we are expecting the prices to go down as rain stopped in several places, the vendor added.

Neha Patel a housewife said, “Vegetable prices have put our kitchen budget on fire. The government should do something on the vegetable price hike. It seems neither the state government nor the APMC has any control over vegetable prices. She adds in big cities like Ahmedabad, Vadodara, Rajkot and Surat the government should set up markets for farmers.
(With inputs from Hemender Sharma in Bhopal and Kumar Abhishek in Lucknow)

Ground report: Veggie prices soar across country as lockdown, rain impact supply chain

Post navigation


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: