Vegetable prices surge ahead of mandi closure despite surge in arrivals

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A vegetable vendor in Mumbai, India's financial capital. Photo/IAC

Vegetables prices went up further today despite increased arrivals of key produce in the Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC) Vashi, as the market decided to remain closed tomorrow in order to facilitate disinfection and protect participants from coronavirus (Covid-19), reports Business Standard.

Total vegetable arrivals in the mandi surged to 830 vehicles, holding about nine tonnes each, and 7,470 tonnes collectively. In comparison, there were 600 vehicles carrying a total of 5,400 tonnes on Tuesday. Despite the surge in arrivals, prices of key vegetables jumped as stockists rushed to store the commodity for uninterrupted supply to retailers and consumers.’

The fruits and vegetables section of APMC Vashi will remain closed on Thursday and Sunday until March 31 for social distancing to prevent spread of Covid-19. Other sections in APMC mandi, however, will function as usual. Other mandis across the state, however, will remain open as usual.

The Maharashtra government is taking all possible measures to disperse the crowd and prevent the spread of Covid-19 at the vegetable section in APMC Vashi, which normally sees farmers, stockists, traders, and retailers gathering in large numbers.

Farmers and stockists from other states and from remote regions of Maharashtra have been informed not to transport their vegetables on Thursday and Sunday. But mandi closure for two days a week would help increase supply on the following days, thus nullifying the impact on prices.

Vegetable prices, in fact, have risen significantly during the past two weeks. Brinjal round for example, rose by 17 per cent to trade at Rs 14 a kg in the wholesale market on Wednesday, from Rs 12 earlier this month. Cabbage and peas prices have jumped by 22 per cent and 33 per cent respectively on supply shortage.

The winter harvest, which came in a month late due to a delay in planting, is going in full swing currently. With vegetable output likely to remain lower due to deterioration in soil moisture this year, harvesting of the winter crop will be extended by a month, that is, till April-end.

Meanwhile, the Union Ministry of Agriculture has forecast India’s vegetable production in January to remain higher by 2.64 per cent to 183.17 million tonnes mainly because of a surge in onion output. Production of green vegetables is estimated to remain lower this year.

Shekhar Ghosh is consulting editor, Indoasiancommodities.com. He has edited and written for publications like Business India, Business Standard, Business Today, Outlook and many other international publications. He can be reached at shekhar.ghosh@indoasiancommodities.in.

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