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Vegetable prices skyrocket

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BEYOND REACH: Rising prices have made vegetables unaffordable to the common man. A scene from a shop in Thrissur. —
BEYOND REACH: Rising prices have made vegetables unaffordable to the common man. A scene from a shop in Thrissur. —

Mini Muringatheri

Rise in prices is blamed on poor arrivals from Tamil Nadu

THRISSUR: Prices of vegetables, which peaked during Deepavali, continue to be high and unaffordable to a large section of people.

The rise in the prices is attributed to the poor arrivals of vegetables from Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. Traders say that prices are unlikely to come down until the arrivals stabilise.

“Arrivals have been affected due to untimely rain and subsequent decrease in production. As stocks dwindle, prices go up. There has been a 200 to 300 per cent rise in prices of certain vegetables such as beans and tomatoes,” said V.L. Dencil, secretary, Thrissur Merchant Association.

Corporate giants

Direct procurement of vegetables from the farms by corporate giants caused scarcity in the market and contributed to the spiralling of prices, he pointed out.

“The State needs 28.1 lakh tonnes of vegetables a year. But Kerala’s annual production is just 17 lakh tonnes from approximately one lakh hectare of land. For the rest, the State depends on its neighbours,” said Jiju. P. Alex, Associate Professor at Kerala Agricultural University.

When cabbage, cauliflower, capsicum, carrot and spring onions come from Mettupalayam, drumstick, ladies finger and beans arrive from Ottanchatram, near Madurai.

While the prices of most vegetables have gone up by 80 to 100 per cent over the past few weeks, the price of beans increased to an unprecedented 300 per cent and is selling at Rs.50-60 a kg.

Bitter gourd and Ribbed Gourds are sold at Rs. 45-50 a kg. Similarly, field beans cost Rs. 30-40 per kg.

Prices of other vegetables such as drumstick (Rs.35-40), carrot (Rs.35-40) and ladies finger (Rs.32-40) have all gone up.

As arrivals decreased, the traders were selling even the locally-grown vegetables at higher rates, said a housewife.

“Our weekly budget for vegetables was Rs. 125, but now it has gone up to Rs. 200. At this rate, it would be tough to balance family expenses,” said S. Kamala, a housewife.

Because of the high rates in the wholesale markets, small traders and vendors were not lifting stocks. Roadside and mobile vendors are conspicuous by their absence, said G. Sunitha, a housewife in Punkunnam. Taking advantage of the situation, many retail outlets were charging excess prices.

However, the price of banana has decreased. When raw banana was selling at Rs. 8-10 a kg, ripe ones were selling at Rs. 14-18.

Even raw mango was available for Rs. 8-10 a kg. “Business was dull during the past few days. People reduced the quantity of purchase. To attract costumers we reduced our profit margins,” pointed out Ravi, a retail trader on Shornoor road. A trader at the Sakthan Thampuran Market said that pumpkin, cucumber and drumstick used to be low priority due to poor margins.

But now even these vegetables were being sold at Rs. 30-40 a kg in the retail market.

It was high time the State became self sufficient in vegetable production, Mr. Jiju said. “On an average, the State produces 15 tonnes of vegetables a hectare. With added focus on cultivation, this can be raised to 25 tonnes a hectare,” he said.

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