Although there was a fall in vegetable prices at government centres on Thursday, they continued to remain high in the open market thanks to a long supply of chain comprising traders, middleman and retailers.
Mumbaiites who went to these government centres were relieved as prices of tomatoes reduced from Wednesday’s Rs44 a kg to Rs40, cauliflowers from Rs38 a kg to Rs28 and gavar from Rs52 a kg to Rs44.
The skyrocketing prices of vegetables had prompted the state government to set up 106 centres across the city, where vegetables are now being sold at wholesale price. Of these, while 15 were commissioned in past and four more were added on Thursday.
Of these two are in Navy Nagar and one each at Bandra and Santacruz. Further, vegetables will also be sold at government rates at the 21 centres of Sahkari Bhandar cooperative society in the city.
However, consumer activists are of the opinion that these centres were an inadequate replacement for lakhs of vendors in the city.
“If the state invokes a provision under the essential commodity act, it can regulate vegetable prices and decide on a profit margin for vendors by calculating transportation and other overhead costs. It should be ensured that vendors do not charge above these fixed rates,” said Shirish Deshpande of the Mumbai Grahak Panchayat.
Many other activists also suggested eliminating middlemen by improving the procurement and transportation processes.
“Farmers’ cooperatives should be formed and they should be allowed to sell their produce directly in markets,” said Arun Saxena, president of International Consumer Rights Protection Council (ICRPC).
Concerns have also been raised about the storage capacity at wholesale and retail market, which is leading to a lot of waste.
“A large amount of vegetables are being wasted since there is no proper storage system. The state must invest in improving the storage capacity so that the produce can be even on the next day. This will also help in stabilising fluctuating prices,” said Mohammad Afzal, consumer activist.