Vegetable prices have declined about 44 per cent over the past three weeks because of a sharp increase in arrivals of new crops. A new trend of farmers and aggregators supplying directly to consumers is being observed as there has been a reduction in mandi arrivals.
The data compiled by the National Horticulture Board showed okra prices fell 44 per cent in Bengaluru to Rs 9 a kg on Monday, as against Rs 16 a kg on June 16. At the wholesale mandi in Mumbai, okra prices plunged 37.5 per cent to trade at Rs 20 a kg on Monday, as against Rs 32 a kg three weeks ago. Prices of vegetables like brinjal, cabbage, and cauliflower have also declined sharply since the start of Unlock 1.
Vegetable prices have declined due to bumper arrivals. The current price decline has worsened farmers’ financial condition, which was destroyed in March-April because of mandi closures, labour and logistics problems. Farmers couldn’t harvest the first cycle of summer crop in March because of the lockdown.
With the government allowing sales of essential commodities directly to consumers, farmers have come together to become aggregators of the new cycle crop that is now coming for sale. They are supplying fresh produce to bulk and retail consumers. However, farmers are still facing acute labour shortage for harvesting, loading and unloading of fresh vegetable produce.
Normally, vegetables prices move up with the onset of the monsoon because of a disruption in transport from farms to mandis. However, the government has abolished mandatory supply of farm produce to mandis.
The high water table because of a normal monsoon last year and favourable rains during rabi sowing season, the production of horticulture crops has been quite good this season, The future price movement will depend on the intensity of rains, which may disrupt transportation to some extent.