Vegetable prices in both the wholesale and retail markets have gone up in the past week because of inadequate supply within Maharashtra. In what is bad news for consumers, the hike in the retail market is almost 100% in several cases.
Drought and extreme heat have hit production hard in the state. Usually, around 80% of the vegetables come from within the state and 20% from outside.
The wholesale market at APMC, which supplies vegetables to Mumbai, witnessed a sharp drop in arrivals from the state. Arrivals from outside the state are proving costlier.
Laxmiseth Pingle, former APMC director, said, “There is an almost 50% drop in the arrivals of vegetable crops from various areas of the state. Earlier, around 600 to 700 vehicles would arrive daily to the market. Now we get only 450 to 500 vehicles daily.”
He said, “There is now increased dependency on crops from Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat and Karnataka. Getting supplies from such far-off places increases the cost and also affects the quality of the supply.”
“Things are going to get worse in the coming days with prices rising further because of the shortage,” Pingle said.
While prices of the vegetables have certainly increased in the wholesale market, the hike in the retail market is steep.
Kamlesh Gupta, a vegetable vendor in Vashi, said, “We are having difficulty in getting the vegetables in the wholesale market and the ones we do get are expensive.”
“The crop that is arriving is not of good quality. A lot of what we purchase is rotten. We have to spend again to separate usable crop to sell to the customers, and in the end we are left with very little, which further pushes up the cost.”
“It is natural that the cost of vegetables will be higher in the retail market. The sales have gone down, but there is little we can do,” Gupta said.
Manisha Patil, a homemaker, said, “The prices have simply zoomed within a week, sending my budget into a tizzy. There is no option but to purchase in smaller quantities. It is becoming difficult to manage.”
Nishant Venkatram, 26, a Vashi resident said, “I always buy vegetables while returning from work. On Tuesday, I found the prices had increased by at least Rs40. It’s just becoming way too difficult for a middle class person to buy vegetables.”