Vegetable prices skyrocket on eve of festival
The sky-rocketing prices of vegetables have put a damper on Vishu sales at the Palayam market in Kozhikode, which is normally a beehive of activity on the eve of the festival. Vegetable prices have shot up two-fold in the last couple of days. Beans and ladies finger are the most expensive in the market, at Rs.80 and Rs.60 a kg respectively. Brinjal costs Rs.40 a kg. while tomato, snake gourd and elephant foot yam are priced at Rs.30 a kg. Cucumber and banana cost Rs.25 while bottle gourds and broom sticks come at Rs.20 a kg. The common man may find it wiser to celebrate Vishu this year with a simple sambar of potatoes and onions costing Rs.15 and Rs.10 a kg. respectively.
However, the costs vary from vendor to vendor. A vendor was seen selling lemon at Rs.40 a kg., announcing that this was the lowest price. Kani vellari , golden cucumber that is an indispensable part of the ‘Vishu Kani', costs anything between Rs.20 and Rs.40 a piece (not kilogram) depending on the vendor. Drought in Tamil Nadu, the major source of vegetables for the State, and demand of higher rent by lorry owners are the reasons for the higher prices, a vendor said.
Roadside cloth vendors around Mananchira, Pavamani Road, S.M. Street and Moideen Palli Road are, however, are a big draw, mainly owing to lower prices of their wares. The bigger shops have announced special discounts and freebies for Vishu to attract seasonal customers. Home appliances, footwear and electronics shops too have offered discounts.
The firecracker market is lively as usual. Cracker shops, mainly in Valiyangadi, Puthiyangadi and West Hill, are abuzz with customers, especially children. Novel ‘Chinese' firecrackers are more in demand as they offer a better spectacle with very little noise. The traditional sparklers now come in cylindrical tubes instead of rectangular packets. The other popular varieties include ‘Jumping Frog', ‘Bubbles', ‘Mini fountain', ‘Jasmine Drop' ‘Magic Whip', ‘Divya Jyoti' and ‘Blue Inspire'. Praveen Kumar, a cracker vendor, said the prices of firecrackers of the same variety are different for different brands. The traditional palm leaf crackers have been banned this year as they have proved dangerous in the previous years. Liquor sales have, however, not been affected by price rise. Serpentine queues were seen outside the Kerala State Beverages Corporation outlets.