Scanty rains lead to slump in arrivals at market
For many Madurai residents, vegetable shopping at the Central Vegetable Market near Mattuthavani on Sunday morning burnt a big hole in their pockets.
For the last one month, the prices of vegetables have been steadily rising. “Onions, potatoes and tomatoes are sold at Rs.30 a kg today,” said S. Shiva who owns a wholesale shop in the market. Selling at Rs.70 a kilo, beans proved to be one of the most expensive vegetables. Drumsticks are sold at Rs.65 a kg and ‘avarai’ (country beans) and beetroot at Rs.50.
“We are not expecting the rates of vegetables to come down anytime soon. There has been scanty rainfall everywhere and there haven’t been heavy arrivals,” said N. Eswaran, a vendor.
“Customers bargain hard but we are already not making much profit. People who used to buy in kilos buy only 250 grams to 300 grams of these vegetables,” he added.
Echoing his view, most vendors at the market also said that with the cost of transportation having gone up, they were hardly making money.
“It costs Rs.5 to transport one kilo. A train ticket to Tenkasi which used to cost us Rs.25 now costs Rs.35,” said T. Muthukumar.
G. Nagamani, a vendor who sells coriander, said they bought a kilo of the leaves at a whopping Rs.160. “Prices used to be so low that we used to give it for free in the past,” he said.
With vegetables such as radish, chow chow (chayote) and brinjal costing Rs.35 a kilo, customers have no choice but to go ahead and spend heavily on vegetables.
“We pack lunch for our children every day and they need some variety. With vegetables such as beans costing Rs.70 a kg, we have been forced to skip preparing extra meals such as evening snacks and tiffin,” said G. Balamurugan, a resident of Surya Nagar.
T. Bhuvaneshwari, a resident of Kadachanendhal, said the prices of vegetables were not the only ones to hurt, the prices of meat had also doubled. “While chicken cost Rs.170 a kilo, mutton costs Rs.500. Now, our household budget is in disarray,” she says.