Supply crunch pushes up vegetable prices

Those who stick to a vegetarian menu during the holy month of Kartika spend 30% to 40% more at rythu bazaars, while it is 50% more at retail stores as the prices of vegetables have shot up in the past couple of weeks.

Less arrival of loads from other regions, incessant rain in major vegetable growing regions followed by the damage of crops and dip in local production due to delayed paddy cultivation are some of the major reasons attributed to the fall in vegetable supply and subsequent surge in the prices.

While assorted vegetables are grown in 7,500 hectares covering various parts of the district including Anandapuram, Ananthagiri, Devarapalle, Sabbavaram, K. Kotapadu and Dumbriguda mandals and Araku madal, Visakhapatnam is dependent on Kurnool, Rajamahendravaram, Madanapalle, Ramabhadrapuram and parts of West Bengal, Karnataka and Maharashtra for vegetable supplies. “This year, due to late sowing of paddy during kharif season, crop rotation has been considerably delayed, impacting the vegetable yield in the district,” observes K. Sailaja, Assistant Director of Horticulture Department, Visakhapatnam.

The cost of a majority of vegetables has gone up in the past two weeks and the prices of vegetables per kg at rythu bazaars are: onion ₹38, tomato ₹40, green leaf ₹20 a bundle, carrots ₹64, eggplants ₹38 and lady’s finger ₹38. However, the vegetable rates at retail outlets are almost double of that at rythu bazaars.

Wholesale dealers and vegetable traders predict that the situation is not going to be any better for the next couple of weeks. “Consumers will continue to feel the pinch until the arrival of the fresh produce which is expected next month,” says B. Raju, estate officer of rythu bazaar at Peda Waltair.

“Currently, the movement is quite slow as consumers prefer to stock limited quantity of vegetables owing to price rise,” says Lakshman, a farmer from Anandapuram.

Currently, the average supply of vegetables (all varieties) is 4,678 quintals against the demand of 5,560 quintals a day across 13 rythu bazaars in the district. The per day requirement of onion is 530 quintals a day and the arrival is 350 quintals. Similarly, 440 quintals of tomato are required but only 295 quintals are being received.

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