Vegetable prices are soaring at such a pace that buying vegetables or fruits from your local greengrocer is akin to making purchases at international prices.
To cite an example: apple is being sold at Rs. 80 per kg -- very close to its euro exchange rate of Rs. 82.
Similarly, onion is being sold at Rs. 60 against the US dollar exchange rate of Rs. 61.
Not far behind is tomato, a must for every kitchen basket. It is being sold at Rs. 45-50, at par with the Singapore dollar, exchange rate for which is Rs. 48 at present.
The comparison may sound strange, but it goes to show how much the vegetable prices have escalated, from 100 to 150% in the last two months.
Significantly, as prices went up due to reasons other than inflation, monsoon (which affects crop production, storage and movement of trucks), they did not come down even after monsoon was over.
“The price of ladyfinger, that was Rs15 to Rs. 20 per kilogram in February, went up to Rs. 45 during July and August and now it is Rs. 40. Even pumpkin is priced at Rs. 35 per kilogram. The price is almost double of that in April,” said a housewife Rashmi.
The rates are the same, whether it is Dubagga vegetable market, Chowk, Nishatganj, Aliganj or Indira Nagar market.
Vegetable price rise is significant as it increases primary food inflation and adds to wholesale price index in the district.
If prices do not come down and remain stable, any next crisis will trigger a further price rise.
This might severely affect kitchen fires, troubling people who wish to enjoy a variety of food during the forthcoming winters.
“If the monsoon price of pumpkin can jump from Rs. 22 to Rs. 40, should we expect next year’s jump to be from Rs. 40 to Rs. 80, making even pumpkin out of the reach of common middleclass families?” asked Rakesh Kumar, a private sector employee.
“Tomato was priced at Rs. 20 per kg till last year. This year, the price went up to Rs. 50 and then settled at Rs. 30.
So, if there has been a rise of Rs. 10 in the base rate in one year, should we expect tomatoes to be sold at Rs. 100 next year, during the crisis period ? Rakesh wanted to know.