After a sharp increase in December, vegetable prices moderated in January as arrivals increased from major cultivating states including Maharashtra, Gujarat, West Bengal and Madhya Pradesh.
While announcing the Consumer Price Index (CPI) which tracks retail price of commodities, the Central Statistics Office (CSO) had reported 60 per cent price increase of green vegetables in December. In January, however, retail prices of green vegetables have declined sharply.
The data compiled by the National Horticulture Board (NHB) under the Union Ministry of Agricultural showed okra prices declined by 33 per cent in retail to trade currently at Rs 40 a kg in Mumbai. Similarly, cauliflower in Kolkata retail market is selling now at Rs 15 a kg, 42 per cent lower than its price of Rs 26 a kg early January. Interestingly, vegetable prices continued to move up in Delhi markets in both wholesale and retail sales on supply worries and huge spoilage due to record cold weather.
Prices of green vegetables started rising steadily since October but almost doubled in December on reports of flood-ravaged kharif crop damage in Maharashtra and delay in planting of rabi crop on unseasonal rainfalls in other agrarian states.
Source: National Horticulture Board, Compiled by BS Research Bureau
“Kharif crop was damaged heavily across Maharashtra due to flood in the monsoon season. Plantings of rabi vegetable were delayed by four-six weeks on high soil moisture following intermittent rainfalls during the post monsoon season resulting into proportionate delay in harvesting of rabi vegetables. Since, supply in large quantity has started only in the last two weeks, vegetables prices have moderated. The moderation in vegetable price will continue with the steady increase in arrivals going forward,” said Arun Kale, Secretary, Agriculture Produce Market Committee (APMC), Nashik.
New season arrivals of most vegetables have jumped by 50-100 per cent in the first two weeks in January.
The sharp increase in prices has prompted many farmers across the country to bring in additional area under vegetables’ plantings this year. Availability of quality seeds, fertilizer and pesticides also helped farmers yield better crop this season than previous years. Favourable agro climatic condition with a combination of bright shiny days and cold nights helped germination of plants, flowering and growth of fruits.
“Vegetables prices would decline in coming weeks as arrivals of rabi season crop has started coming into mandis,” said Sriram Gadhave, President, Vegetables’ Growers Association.
Apart from vegetables, additives like onion have also seen a sharp decline in retail prices in January. Retail prices of onion have declined by 35 per cent in Delhi to trade currently at Rs 65 a kg today as compared to Rs 100 a kg two weeks ago.
“While retail prices of vegetables have risen sharply this year, farmers could not get major benefit of this prices rise. Most of the benefit of the vegetables’ price rise has gone to traders and arhatiyas due to their deep pockets. They procure vegetables from farmers at low price and sell the same into mandis or bulk consumers at high prices with profits manifold,” said Santosh Sidhangouda Patil, Chairman, Vasantdada Market Yard, Sangli.
Patil urged the government to avoid farm loan waiver and ensure remunerative prices of vegetables for sustainable growth for farmers.
“Opportunistic farm loan waiver is not going to solve farmers’ problems. While input prices and labour cost have gone up significantly resulting into a sharp increase in the cost of production, farmers’ realization remained lower. The government must focus on how to increase farmers’ income than opportunistic farm loan waiver,” said Patil.