Prices of essential commodities have risen sharply in the past month, due to hoarding by stockists amid expectations of higher realisation, after a fortnight of delay, followed by 22 per cent deficiency in monsoon rainfall.
While essential vegetable prices have jumped 72 per cent, foodgrains recorded a surge of 10-15 per cent. In vegetables, tomatoes led the spurt, recording a 71.4 per cent rise in the past month.
“We have to consume green vegetables, whatever the price. We might have to reduce the quantity, but cannot completely deny its use,” said Avinash Patil, deputy secretary of the vegetable section at the Agricultural Produce Marketing Committee (APMC) at Vashi, Navi Mumbai.
Inflationary trend in essential vegetables (Rs /10 kg)
|* Based on the higher end of the prices Source : APMC, Vashi
This year, the three major tomato belts in Maharashtra — Sangli, Narayangaon and Baramati — have remained absent from the market, as major growers in these belts have shifted to short-duration crops like leafy vegetables, including cabbage and cauliflower. Also, because of lower rainfall, the yield is 70 per cent lower than the average of last year in these regions.
Tomato is currently supplied to the Vashi APMC from Karnataka. Tomato arrivals in the mandi are 55-60 trucks of 20 tonnes each in a day, against the demand of 100 trucks.
According to R P Gupta, director, National Horticultural Research & Development Association, farmers are taking resort to short-duration crops instead of long-duration ones. The former, such as cabbage, cauliflower and spinach, are harvested in 40-45 days and require less water. Late sowing of these crops also has a higher potential of normal yield. Against that, the long-duration crops’ yield declines with lower rainfall and delay in sowing. Such crops are cotton, jowar, bajra, soybean and coarse grains, he said.
Potato prices have also seen an upsurge, as stockists are reluctant to release their holdings. Farmers in Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal might release some quantity in August, ahead of the festival season. As a consequence, the price could go up to Rs 22-24 a kg by September-end, as farmers in Karnataka did not sow this season, due to lower price last year. The new season crop is expected in October-end, coinciding with stock release by major traders, said Rajeev Maniar, secretary, Onion-Potato Traders Association.
The crop diversion into major leafy vegetables has resulted in 10-15 per cent higher sowing area. But output and its impact on price would depend up rainfall during the remaining period of this monsoon season, said Patil.
B Venkateswarlu, director of the Hyderabad–based Central Research Institute for Dryland Agriculture, said, “The sowing of kharif crop has been delayed, which would result in proportionate delay in harvesting. But overall yield would not be impacted if rainfall revives during the rest of the season.”
As a consequence, the consumer would suffer until September-end from high vegetable prices in case the deficiency continues, said Usmanbhai Syed, president, Wholesale Vegetable Merchants’ Association.