With traders of the agricultural produce market committee (APMC) in Vashi threatening to continue with their agitation till Wednesday, the prices of vegetables and fruits, which are up by 60%, may rise further.
Traders are protesting against the amendment to the APMC act, which allows farmers to sell their produce through outlets other than the APMCs.
While onion and potato traders were on agitation on Monday, wholesale dealers of vegetables and fruits, too, have threatened to join the agitation.
Ignoring the opposition from traders, the state government promulgated the ordinance on July 5, after the governor’s nod, without waiting for the start of the monsoon session from July 18. An ordinance is equivalent to an Act, when the state Assembly is not in session, but has to be approved by the legislature within six weeks of reassembly of the legislature.
On Monday, the prices of all vegetables in the retail market were up by 40%-100%, compared to last week. Green peas which were available for Rs140 a kg till last week, were sold at to Rs240-280 a kg, while the rate of cauliflower rose to Rs160 a kg, from Rs80-Rs120 a kg. The wholesale prices, however, haven’t changed much.
“We are not opposing the amendment, but we want similar freedom for free trade. There should be no regulation at all,” said Sanjay Pinglay, vegetable and onion trader at the market.
Consumers want the state to take all stakeholders such as farmers and consumer cooperatives into confidence instead of bowing down to the pressure. “The traders will oppose the decision as it hurts their interests. To ensure smooth implementation, the government should consult farmers and consumers group and come up with innovative ways,” said Shirish Deshpande, chairman, Mumbai Grahak Panchayat (MGP).
To ensure citizens don’t get inconvenienced, the government has mobilised some goods from Nashik, which will enter the city by Wednesday.
“We are working on alternative channels to sell farmers’ produce in Mumbai. If the amendment is withdrawn, it will affect consumers and farmers in the long term. Currently, the market is controlled by 200-300 traders. This amendment will get more traders such as farmer-producer, consumer cooperatives, self-help groups and direct marketing agencies into the business,” said Deshpande.