Bengaluru

Yeshwantpur APMC yard to function for four hours three days a week

A file photo of Yeshwantpur Agricultural Produce Marketing Committee yard

A file photo of Yeshwantpur Agricultural Produce Marketing Committee yard  

Association threatens to shut shop over govt. directive to onion, potato traders to shift to outskirts

While farmers are dumping perishable produce as they are unable to get them to wholesale markets, stocks are running low in the city.

Supply-chain distortions persist despite assurances by the State government to the contrary. To stretch the stock till at least April 14, when the lockdown to contain the spread of COVID-19 is scheduled to end, traders at the Agricultural Produce Marketing Committee (APMC) yard at Yeshwantpur have decided to function only on alternative days for a limited time window of four hours.

The market will operate on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays till April 14. “There was some respite in the movement of trucks following the recent meeting with the State government. We could unload all the trucks at the yard, but around 90% of the trucks crossing inter-State borders are now stuck on national highways. So, we have to manage with the available stock,” said Ramesh Chandra Lahoti, chairman, APMC Committee, Federation of Karnataka Chambers of Commerce and Industry.

Health concerns over the spread of COVID-19 have also been a cause for concern following which it was decided that the APMC would operate for a four-hour window, he added.

Lack of supply

What has crippled the wholesale markets is that mandis across the country where farmers auction their produce have been shut for over a week. “For instance, the Kalaburagi mandi, a primary market for toor, was open on Friday but had to close in just two hours as thousands gathered. So, there is no new supply of toor to the dal mills in the region. What we can get now is the stocks at mills, be it rice, dal, sugar or oils. The Union government has to take a call and ensure the mandis run in the next two weeks,” Mr. Lahoti said. Distortion of transport networks has only meant that even stock available at the mills are unable to reach markets.

‘Shift sales to outskirts’

To prevent overcrowding at the Yeshwantpur yard, the State government has directed merchants selling onions, potato, and garlic to shift to Dasanapura market, near Nelamangala, 20 km away from Yeshwantpur.

Bangalore Onion and Potato Traders’ Association has, however, argued the shifting is not feasible and said it will mostly shut shop till April 14. “Even if farmers come to Dasanapura to sell their produce, given the situation in the city it is highly unlikely that retailers will be able to make the trip to Dasanapura. It is just not feasible. So we may not be open for business till April 14,” said a senior onion trader with the association who wished to stay anonymous.

However, retail chains, including HOPCOMS, will continue to buy from farmers.

This shutdown is expected to create a shortage of staples and drive up prices. On Sunday, in some localities a kg of garlic was retailing for ₹180 to ₹200.

Truck drivers worried

Most drivers have taken leave and are reportedly refusing to ply trucks. “They and their families are also scared of contracting COVID-19. Moreover, there is no guarantee that there will be a smooth passage to the destination. They may arbitrarily be stopped along the highway and forced to spend many days on the road. So, most of them are refusing to ply,” explained Ravi Kumar, a senior merchant at the Yeshwanthpur APMC yard. Several traders are prepared to pay double the price for transit but are unable to find drivers, he explained.

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Printable version | Jun 1, 2020 11:50:04 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/bangalore/yeshwantpur-apmc-yard-to-function-for-four-hours-three-days-a-week/article31201476.ece

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