Prices have come down due to vegetable-laden lorries being diverted from Andhra Pradesh to city
The arguments over the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh continue but vegetable buyers in the city seem to have become unintended beneficiaries of the turmoil.
Over a fortnight, the prices of tomatoes have fallen by at least Rs.10 per kg in the retail market after the diversion of lorries from Andhra Pradesh due to ongoing protests over the formation of Telangana state. Retailers too have reduced the price drastically. One kg of tomatoes that was priced at Rs. 32 a fortnight ago now costs Rs. 18.
The Koyambedu market usually receives 40-50 lorry-loads of tomatoes daily. But, traders say that 15 more truck-loads of tomatoes from localities in the Tamil Nadu-Andhra Pradesh border have been arriving over the past week. Trucks from areas such as Madanapalle in Chittoor district are being diverted owing to the protests.
Jaffer Ali, a wholesale tomato merchant, said that the cost of tomatoes generally drops during August but this year, the decline had been substantial. Chennai receives fresh stocks of tomatoes in two varieties — local and hybrid — from Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka. Until a week ago, a box consisting of 15 kg of local variety of tomatoes was priced at Rs. 200 in the wholesale market. Now, it costs merely Rs. 90-Rs. 150 depending on the quality. Similarly, the cost of the hybrid variety has dropped from Rs. 250-Rs. 280 to Rs. 160-Rs. 200. “This trend may continue for few more days,” he added.
The cost of ginger, which was nearly Rs. 175 a kg, has also fallen to Rs. 80-Rs. 100 with the arrival of fresh stock.
But, customers’ joy may not last long in the wake of escalating onion prices. The vegetable now costs Rs. 40 a kg. Shanthi Saravanan, a resident of Ayanavaram, said that many vegetables such as beetroot and ladies finger also cost more than Rs. 35 per kg. “I am buying only a quarter kg of vegetables on each trip to the shop, once every two to three days, in the hope that prices will come down,” she said.
Onion traders like S. Natarajan said that the short supply from Maharashtra and increasing demand during the festival season had led to the increase in prices.
Green chillies now cost Rs. 60 a kg in retail market because of the poor quality of arrivals from Karnataka, which is experiencing heavy rains. S. Rammohan, a wholesale trader, said that the price changes daily in wholesale market. But retailers wait for a correction in price as they cannot frequently change rates.