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).
According to Shankarsheth Laxman Pingle, Director, APMC Vashi, 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.'
“Arrivals of vegetables have increased today on a surge in supply from farmers. While key vegetables have reported a marginal increase in prices, overall market sentiment remained muted on bumper supply,” said Pingle.
“To avoid gathering of people, after meeting government officials yesterday, we have decided to keep fruits and vegetables section of APMC Vashi 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,” said Pingle.
Interestingly, other mandis across the state 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. A supply disruption of a day does not have any major impact on prices,” said Ravi Patil, Deputy Secretary, APMC Vashi (vegetable section).
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.
“Till then, vegetable prices would remain under pressure. But, we expect them to shoot up towards the end of April when harvesting ends and supply reduces. We had lower soil moisture this year and hence, vegetable production is expected to decline. Towards end of April, however, vegetable prices would shoot up and would continue to rise with the monsoon rainfall,” said Santosh Patil, Chairman, APMC Sangli.
Sriram Gadhave, President, Vegetables’ Growers Association, attributed the current price rise to supply disruptions but said it was unlikely to continue in the short term.
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.