Household budgets took yet another hit with a rise in wholesale rates of vegetables, days after a hike in diesel prices.
Earlier this week, lorries carrying produce from various parts of the country, including Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and Karnataka, hiked transportation charges by a minimum of Rs. 1,000.
Traders in the Koyambedu wholesale market said they did not have a choice but to pass on the burden, at least partially, to customers to avoid severe losses.
The cost of several commonly-used vegetables went up by Rs. 2 to Rs. 3 on Thursday.
V. Marimuthu, a wholesale trader, said, due to poor crop yields and shortage of rain, some vegetables were already pricey. The diesel price hike and increase in the freight charges had further added to the burden.
Several wholesale traders said that the market was struggling to cope with the problems of labourers’ shortage and the recent hike in the labour charges. About 20-30 per cent of the labourers have not returned to the market from Pongal holidays, they said.
The prices of beans, drumstick, green chilli, onion and ladies finger increased by 10-20 per cent in the wholesale market. Consumers had to pay a minimum of Rs. 5 more in the retail markets.
The delay in produce reaching the markets had also affected business, said traders.
Every day, lorries line up in a serpentine queue, awaiting their turn to unload produce in the wholesale shops at Koyambedu. With G Road, linking Poonamallee High Road near Nerkundram to the market, closed for Metro Rail work, the lorries have to use F Road for both entry and exit, resulting in traffic blocks.
E Road, adjacent to the market, is encroached upon by private buses for parking and this added to the problem, traders said.