Traders to help check price rise

Staff Reporter

Supply-demand mismatch main reason

KOCHI: Kerala witnessed a spurt in prices of commodities recently. Whether the price rise is the result of the manipulation of a few is one of the questions raised by some sections of society. The merchants, on their part, took stock of the situation and promised to help the Government in controlling the price line.

Escalation in prices was mainly due the widening gap between demand and availability, according to several merchants. C.J. George, a wholesale merchant of eggs, said several reasons contributed to the price rise. The demand had gone up after the exporters increased the quantity of export. The bird flu in Vietnam and Turkey had affected the export from those countries and Indian exporters got more orders.

The lifting of ban on export of eggs from India to Dubai on the occasion of Dubai shopping festival also had its impact on the market. This apart, there was an increase in the order from north India. The north Indian order usually extended from August to November. But this year, the order from north Indian consumers extended further.

Pointing out that egg prices were determined by the National Egg Coordination Committee (NECC), he said the dealers added the transportation cost only. If the transportation cost could be reduced, it would have an impact on the prices, he said. The prices were likely to come down in the ensuing summer months, he said.

The price rise was not the result of any sort of manipulations, according to L.A. Joshi, a wholesale merchant of plantains. Scarcity in the market was not created artificially, he said, while maintaining that futures trading and the presence of big players were partially responsible for the phenomenon.

Kerala merchants source the plantains mostly from Mettupalayam, Tirunelveli and other markets in Tamil Nadu. The heavy rain had destroyed the plantain farms in Mettupalayam. This has had its impact on the availability in Kerala market. Fresh stocks in larger quantities were reaching Kerala in the last few days as a result of which the prices had already come down. The prices were not likely to go up till Onam, he said.

The export of fresh vegetables to Gulf markets had been a prime reason behind the scarcity and the consequent price rise, said N.H. Shameed, general secretary of Stall Owners Association. The vegetable vendors were not able to get the required quantity because the agents of exporters had been making bulk purchases. Steps were taken to bring adequate quantities from new markets. The prices had already come down in the last few days, he said.

The Ernakulam Merchants Union reviewed the situation and promised to cooperate with the Government in its efforts to bring down the prices. Some of the clauses of VAT were detrimental to the interests of consumers as the tax authorities were penalising the traders over deals involving discounts, the union said.

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