This summer, Chennaiites can relish more fruits as most of them will come with a reasonable price tag.
Juicy watermelons came to the city as early as in February this year. The common green-striped ‘namdari’ variety is now being sold for Rs. 10 - Rs. 15 a kg.
With the city already feeling the searing heat in early April, more people, seeking a respite from the heat, are flocking to the makeshift shops to have a bite of the crunchy watermelons heaped along the roads. Some customers tend to take a taste of the hybrid varieties of watermelons such as ‘mithila’ (the ones with yellow pulp), ‘vishal’ (the ones with yellow rind and red pulp) and ‘kiran’ (dark red pulp), which are priced slightly higher.
Traders in the Koyambedu market said the city receives its share of watermelons from places across the State, including Dindivanam and Villupuram, and from Andhra Pradesh.
The wholesale fruit hub in Koyambedu gets nearly 150-200 lorries of fresh produce daily. “Sales are a bit dull now. We are expecting to do brisk business as the season progresses and more stock start arriving after Tamil New Year,” said M. Muthu, a wholesale trader.
Mangoes have also started arriving in the city. Many city markets sport at least six varieties of mangoes.
“I bought mangoes, grapes, sapota and watermelons recently as they were reasonably priced, compared to rates two weeks ago,” said A. Neela, a resident of West Mambalam.
Chennai gets its stock of mangoes from at least 10 places in Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh. Traders said, at present, the Koyambedu market receives 60 tonnes of mangoes. In a few days, the quantity would increase to 200 tonnes.
While banganapalli and sendura varieties of mangoes are priced at Rs. 80 - Rs. 100 per kg, alphonsa and peethar varieties are sold for Rs. 70 - Rs. 80 per kg in the retail market.
Mozambi and musk melons will also come at a nominal rate of Rs. 30 - Rs. 40 per kg, as was the trend last year.
S. Srinivasan, president of the Chennai Koyambedu Fruits Traders Association, said, “So far the prices are nominal because of sufficient stock. We will have to wait and see until next week when fresh stock arrives to see if there is an increase in price.”
He added that artificial ripening of fruits had greatly reduced following stringent action by the Chennai Corporation.