Erratic supply and unseasonal rains doubles green vegetable prices in Mumbai’s retail market

Vegetable prices have risen by up to 50 per cent the past two weeks in across Maharashtra due to a sharp decline in supply, as unseasonal rain delayed harvesting and damaged crops, reports Business Standard.

Onion wholesale prices in Mumbai surged by 52 per cent to trade at Rs 47 a kg, from Rs 31 a kg in October 15. Cabbage rose by 25 per cent to trade at Rs 20 a kg, from Rs 16 a kg two weeks ago.

The spurt in retail prices was even sharper. In Mumbai, all green vegetables have reported a price jump of up to 100 per cent during the past two weeks.

Vegetable availability has gone down due to lower arrivals at wholesale mandis. Supply was disrupted with low yields in farms and very high spoilage. Sowing was impacted due to floods in several parts of agrarian Maharashtra. Later, farmers used vegetables plants as fodder to help their livestock survive, resulting in lower availability of plants for further growth.

While policy makers and consumers tend to blame retailers for an artificial increase in prices, the sellers have a reason this time. Farmers and stockists sell their produce with whatever little quantity they harvest from the rain-hit muddy fields. Such vegetables have very little shelf life, raising chances of spoilage due to high moisture content.

While vegetable arrivals have fallen significantly the past one month, the situation got worrisome during the past two weeks.

Total arrivals of brinjal round, for example, slumped to 52 tonnes in Mumbai mandi on Friday from 62 tonnes two weeks ago and 106 tonnes a month earlier.

Arrivals of Okra in local mandi have declined to 138 tonnes now from 177 tonnes on October 2016. Barring a few, arrivals of all other vegetables have plunged. By contrast, however, most vegetables’ prices declined in New Delhi due to stockists’ aggressive selling of their inventory to avoid losses in the air pollution hit national capital.

Shekhar Ghosh is a communications consultant and and former journalist, who has edited and written for publications such as like Business India, Business Standard, Business Today and Outlook.

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