Citizens are having a hard time, as vegetables and fruits are being sold at almost double the wholesale rates. While tomatoes were priced at Rs18-32 a kg in the wholesale market, retailers sold it for Rs80-100 a kg. Vegetables such as carrot, cucumber, lady’s finger and cabbage are sold for Rs60-80 in the retail market, compared to the Rs5-20 a kg in the wholesale market till Saturday.
Retailers blame steep pricing on the shortage of supply owing to the rain and the traders’ strike at the Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC), Vashi.
Vegetable, onion, fruits traders and mathadi workers called for a day-long strike on Monday to object to the delisting of their produce from the APMC Act. At present, all produce has to first come to the APMC market, where the retailers make their purchases through the brokers in the market.
Traders claim allowing the farmers to sell their produce through outlets other than the APMCs will affect their business.
Hundreds of mathadis and traders from all over the state gathered at APMC Vashi on Monday and resolved to fight the decision.
MLA Shashikant Shinde, working president of Maharashtra Rajya Mathadi Transport and General Kamgar Union, said, “We welcome the open market policy for the farmers. It is not the farmers, but online shopping companies who will benefit.”
“The state government should remain firm on its decision and set up infrastructure to facilitate farmers,” said Shirish Deshpande, chairman, Mumbai Grahak Panchayat.
Consumer activists demanded action against agitators under the Maharashtra Essential Services and Maintenance (MESMA) Act.
Ashok Walunj, a trader of onions and potatoes and ex-APMC director, said, “The government is allowing direct sale in open market, but do they have the requisite infrastructure to store such a huge quantity of produce.”
“We are ready to provide direct supply to urban areas, provided we are given a fixed space at least once a week,” said Vikas Bhalerao, marketing manager of Junnar Taluka farmer-producer company.
Dr Kishore Toshniwal, director, marketing, Maharashtra, said, “We are not considering