Vegetable prices in the capital are again soaring with arrivals in Azadpur Mandi, the biggest of its kind in the country, witnessing 10-15 per cent drop in arrivals. Though rise in wholesale prices are commensurate with the shortfall in arrivals as farmers strive to recoup their losses due to rains and water logging, particularly in and around the national capital region, the retail prices are swinging more sharply.
“Rise in prices of vegetables is nothing unusal during the monsoon season as supplies of vegetables, particularly leafy vegetables including palak and salad leaves, drop considerably due to rain damage,” says Adil Ahmad Khan, chairman of Azadpur APMC.
Besides the monsoon, the supply shortfall is also due to the ‘overlap’ season when winter variety of vegetables are sown even as the earlier crops like tori and bhindi are being harvested.
The supply of vegetables from Delhi, Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Himachal Pradesh to the Azadpur mandi are currently down by 20 per cent on an average but in the case of leafy vegetables it is worse. By October, the arrivals are expected to improve and should help to lower the prices too.
Unlike wholesale prices which are influenced by how much the farmers or their agents charge, the retail prices are open to manipulation particularly when the buzz about high prices gain tempo, explain market observers. Retail prices in some markets in and around Delhi have seen a sharper rise than in many other cities. A glance at the online prices of various vendors will also bear out that prices of vegetables like tomato, potato, green coriander, ginger, garlic, mushroom etc. have risen from 20 per cent to over 80 per cent.
The average Azadpur mandi prices per kilogram of tomato is currently Rs 27.50; beans Rs 35; bindi Rs 17; cabbage Rs 12.50; brinjal Rs 18.50; onion Rs 12.50 and potato Rs 24.50.
“There has been around 15-20 per cent rise in wholesale prices of most arrivals as farmers are trying to take advantage of shortages to recoup losses due to water logging and rains,” says Khan.
Mayank Jha, who operates a fruits and vegetable outlet Daily Organic in South Delhi and gets vegetable supplies in tie up with Punjab and Haryana agro unions and microgreens (like salad leaves) from small farmers in Faridabad, says the supplies have dropped 20 per cent in some cases. He has, however, managed to keep his tomato rates below Rs 55 as against Rs 60-70 average market price because his stock of green tomatoes is just ripening and is ready to eat.
But prices of some vegetables like onion and garlic have risen from Rs 160-180 per kg to over Rs 240 per kg, while green coriander has jumped to over Rs 100/kg from Rs 60-80/kg just ten days back.
Farmers in turn are hoping that unlike last year, the monsoon will make a smooth withdrawal this month without any unexpected deluge that can harm crops ready to harvest.
For in-depth, objective and more importantly balanced journalism, Click here to subscribe to Outlook Magazine