Market intervention brings down prices of vegetables

The vegetable retail store opened last week near Public Library at Palayam has registered better business than anticipated, said officials of Horticorp and the State Horticultural Mission. The sales touched Rs.1 lakh on Monday as more city residents have begun choosing this alternative in the wake of a sharp increase in the open market price of vegetables.

Horticultural Mission director K. Prathapan told The Hindu that more such outlets would be opened shortly, on the premises of the State Planning Board at Palayam, near All India Radio office at Vazhuthacaud, at Maruthamkuzhy and peripheral regions such as Neyyattinkara and Parassala. He said he would meet the director of Supplyco to set up Horticorp’s vegetable outlets as an add-on to the existing Supplyco stores.

Prices of vegetables such as ginger, chillies, and tomatoes have almost trebled over the past few weeks.

On average, sales touch Rs. 75,000 a day at the Palayam store and over Rs. 2 lakh a day at the 100-odd outlets scattered across the city.

“Today, the price is better than yesterday. This is the way I approach the market now,” said Renuka, a regular buyer at a particular wholesale store at Connemara Market at Palayam. She feels the pinch, she says, but cannot cut down the amount of food served at home.

Vegetable vendors say they do not charge exorbitant rates, for, they have to sell the produce before they perish. “Even so, I lose minimum 25 per cent of the volumes procured because business is slow. It is not very different from the previous years. We procure the vegetables from Tamil Nadu at whatever price they demand,” said A.S. Shibu, who runs a stall at Palayam. His sole customers during the weekends are migrant labourers, a scene markedly different from earlier when crowds thronged the narrow alleys of the market.

“It is a trend I have noticed over the past few years. People turn to the government stalls, small retail stores next to their house or the upmarket stores that announce all sorts of offers. Nobody comes to the market,” said Shibu. At his store, tomatoes currently cost Rs.40 a kg, ginger, Rs. 180, and the price of small onions has risen from Rs. 60 to Rs. 120 over the past month.