Retail rates may rise in the coming week, says Azadpur Mandi Onion Merchant Traders’ body

After shedding onion tears, Delhiites have now been hit hard by a sharp increase in the prices of almost all the other vegetables as well. The rates have shot up in the wholesale and retail markets due to a variety of reasons ranging from inundation of agricultural fields to a drop in supply from the neighbouring States and hoarding by suppliers at every level of the supply chain.

While onion prices have already touched the Rs.70-Rs 80 per kg-mark in some South Delhi colonies, tomato prices have also risen dramatically over the past week from around Rs.35 per kg to Rs.50 per kg. Apart from this, the prices of green chilli and lemon have shot up to Rs.100 per kg from Rs.60, while ginger is selling at Rs.250 per kg, up from Rs.180 per kg.

Worse still, trade analysts insist the upward spiral is not about to end just yet. Looking at the market trends, traders pointed out that in the coming days retail onion prices can soar up to Rs.80 per kg. “If this continues, the retail prices could touch Rs.80 in the next week or so,” said Azadpur Mandi’s Onion Merchant Traders’ Association president Surendra Budhiraj.

Agricultural Produce Marketing Committee (Azadpur) chairman Rajinder Kumar Sharma said the prices will only start to fall when the monsoon comes to an end. “We always see a rise in prices during monsoon since it is difficult to transport vegetables during this time. However, the monsoon appears to be receding in the South and this will mean our stocks will reach us on time,” he said.

Wholesale prices for tomatoes in the Azadpur Mandi ranged between Rs.27 and Rs.16 per kg; for bhindi (lady’s finger) between Rs.27.50 and Rs.12.50 per kg; and for the modest potato they have hovered around the Rs.20 per kg-mark.

With a shortage of 629 tonnes of onions this year that is pushing up the prices, a concerned Delhi Government had said a week ago that it may open stalls to make available onions at reasonable rates in the event prices continue to soar.

However, prices continued to rise unabated with residents in East Delhi such as I.P. Extension getting their supplies for close to Rs.60 per kg. “Since the mandi is very far and the produce in Mother Dairy outlets is of poor quality, we have no option but to buy from the vendors who charge indiscriminate prices,” said a resident of the area.

Another reason for the rise in the prices, as pointed out by a vendor, was that many traders – including wholesalers, retailers and vendors – have started stocking up to earn higher profits. “Knowing full well that the vegetable prices are on the ascendancy, the traders are keeping their stocks and only releasing small quantities. This is leading to an artificial scarcity which is further pushing up the prices,” said a vendor.

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