R.Jagadeeswara Rao

Vegetarianism catching up among people, say sources

Shortage of onions due to extensive crop damage in Kurnool

Importance of cold storage facilities stressed

VISAKHAPATNAM: Shortage of supply, absence of market intervention and cold storage facilities, processing and value addition, presence of greedy middlemen and traders who decide the price to be paid to the farmers and collected from the consumers, had resulted in unchecked rise of prices of vegetables. In case of items like tomato there were wild price fluctuations resulting in uncertainty. This situation, according to officials, prevails in the entire State

Not very long back, the house wife at the rythu bazar used to get onions at the rate of Rs.7 a kg. Now it had crossed the Rs.20 a kg mark and private traders collect Rs.28 a kg on the plea of providing better quality onions. The price of potato a few weeks back was just Rs.6 or 7, but on Saturday the ruling price in the market was Rs.16 a kg. On the contrary the price of tomato which had shot up to nearly Rs.30 a kg a month back had come down to mere Rs.8 a kg on Saturday. And new arrivals are expected within a couple of weeks.

According to authorities, the arrival of vegetables in December 2008 was about 700 quintals. But this year the quantity had come down to less than 600 quintals. The shortage of onions in the market was result of extensive crop damage in Kurnool district (due to devastating floods recently), Maharashtra and Bangalore, the three places from where onions used to come. The area under vegetable cultivation in the State is 2,30,612 hectares and the production is 37,93,709 tonnes. In the last few years there was only marginal increase of area under cultivation because of real estate business, formation of Special Economic Zones etc but the productivity had increased considerably because of better management practices. But this was not commensurate with increase in demand.

Marketing network

According to sources, vegetarianism had been catching up and people even in the rural areas started consuming more and more vegetables. The main problem for the price rise and fluctuations was the absence of a marketing network. Citing the example of Maharashtra and Gujarat where farmers form into marketing cooperative societies and control all aspects and ensure a better price for the farmer, officials strongly advocate similar network in the State.

Our Agriculture Marketing Societies and Marketing network are in a deplorable state, said a senior officer. Stressing the importance of cold storage facilities and avoiding transit losses, he pointed out how marketing of milk, once a perishable commodity, became easy after introduction of technology for packaging, storing etc. Similar market chain should be developed for vegetables. It is possible, what is needed is commitment, he added. Another reason for increase in the price of vegetable was the increase in the cost of cultivation. Cost of inputs, wages of labour, transport costs had increased manifold in the last few years. This had naturally resulted in price rise. The situation calls for immediate intervention by the Government.