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.