The vegetable market continues to remain cool ahead of the Onam festival season as traders in the city and the neighbouring markets have reported free availability of produces both from within the State and outside.

Ernakulam Market Stall Owners' Association has reported that daily arrivals from centres like Ootty and Oddanchatram (in Dindigul) has been normal.

Around 20-23 lorry-loads arrive at the Ernakulam market every day. Each load has an average of 13 tonnes of vegetables.

The market is yet to catch the Onam fever, said a trader at the Ernakulam market, but he did not foresee any possibility of an unprecedented rise in vegetable prices as the weather conditions in growing areas have been reported to be good.

Initiatives by organisations like Vegetable and Fruit Promotion Council Keralam (VFPCK) and large-scale lease land farming by volunteers under the Kudumbashree mission; and more recently, the initiative by the State government under a 100-day intensive programme to produce more vegetables are expected to have a telling effect on vegetable availability this season.

Scientists at VFPCK, who track the vegetable prices, have said that the price of most essential items have stabilised after prices peaked early this year under adverse weather conditions.

Rampant pest attacks and unseasonal rains had hit vegetable production late 2010 and early 2011. VFPCK data showed that the price of major vegetable items have not shown any volatility over the last six months. Banana (nendran) was being sold at Rs.35 in the retail market here compared to the Rs.33 a kilogram in August 2010.

Similarly, the price of tomato, Rs.10 a kg on Tuesday compared well with last month's price of Rs.14 a kg. Potatoes were being sold at the same price on Tuesday as in the previous month - Rs.20 a kg in the retail market.

The price of shallots appears to be on an upward trajectory. It is the only vegetable item that has shown an upward trend over the last six months.

Small onion was selling at Rs.40 a kg on Tuesday compared to Rs.24 a kg in the retail market last month.

Prices of produces like cabbage, big onions, and tapioca were ruling quite steady. The price of carrot, however, had moved up to Rs.28 a kg in the retail market compared to the Rs.20 a kg last month.

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