Residents look to ward off virus with orange-tinted immunity
As per the HSAMB data, between March 1 and April 27 this year, a total of 11,222 quintals had been sold at the wholesale Khandsa market, the city’s only wholesale fruits and vegetable market.Updated: May 01, 2020 05:38 IST
The sale of oranges in the city has increased by at least 66% in March and April this year, as compared to the same period last year, according to the Haryana State Agricultural Market Board (HSAMB), as people are seeking to build immunity by consuming the fruit rich in vitamin C, said officials.
As per the HSAMB data, between March 1 and April 27 this year, a total of 11,222 quintals had been sold at the wholesale Khandsa market, the city’s only wholesale fruits and vegetable market. In comparison, 6,745 quintals of oranges were sold from March 1 to April 30 last year.
Incidentally, 6,433 quintals of oranges have been sold between April 1 and April 27 this month.
Fruit vendors and HSAMB officials attributed the spike in sales of oranges to the Covid-19 outbreak. “We have had a lot of customers buying 10-15 kilograms of oranges at a go, as opposed to the two to three kilograms people usually buy. Many say they have started purchasing in bulk to increase their vitamin C levels. We have had to increase our orders from distributors across Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh to meet the growing demand,” said Arvind Yadav, a fruit and vegetable wholesaler at the Khandsa market in Sector 10A.
According to HSAMB officials, almost 70% of the orange supply to Gurugram is from Maharashtra, 20% from Madhya Pradesh and around 10% from Punjab. The sale of oranges is highest from December-March, after which the sale starts dipping due to higher temperatures.
“This year, the demand for oranges has been unprecedented, as people are looking to boost their vitamin C intake. There has been no issue in regard to transportation of fruits from across India and we will continue to ensure it remains that way to meet the growing demand,” said Vinay Yadav, secretary, HSAMB.
While the price of oranges in both March 2019 and March this year was the same — ₹2,500-6,000 per quintal — it has become cheaper this April, a drop from ₹5,000-10,000 per quintal in 2019 to ₹3,500-7,500 this year.
“If you look at the prices of oranges in March 2020 and March 2019, there is no difference in the rate despite the increase in demand this year. The main reason the prices of vegetables and fruits, in general, have come down this month is due to the fact that people have stopped purchasing items from farmers directly amid the national lockdown. Instead, the farmers have had to sell their goods to a limited number of retailers and wholesalers, which has led to a major drop in prices of all fruits and vegetables,” an HSAMB official privy to the matter said.
However, this dip in price has not translated to the retail buyers. Residents said that local grocery stores and roadside vendors are selling oranges at ₹150-200 per kilogram, up from ₹80 earlier.
“I had jaundice recently and my immunity is weak, that’s why I have been purchasing oranges in bulk to ensure I am healthy enough to fight off another possible infection. There has been a huge demand for oranges in my society and the roadside vendor has been taking full advantage of it by pricing it at ₹150-200 per kilogram. With my immunocompromised health, I did not want to risk venturing outside due to the fear of contracting Covid-19 and have been forced to buy oranges at such exorbitant rates,” said Anil Chugh, a resident of Sector 50.
Health experts said that oranges alone cannot build a strong immune system and a diverse diet with exercise is needed to stay in good health.
“While it is well established that vitamin C, which can be derived from oranges, has immune-modulating properties and is a potent anti-oxidant, it alone cannot build immunity overnight. The key to having good health and to fight infectious diseases, including respiratory tract infections, are to include diet diversity such as immune-boosting nutrients like vitamins A, D, zinc, selenium, iron and folic acid, besides vitamin C. Adequate amount of protein in the diet is also vital for a person to enhance their immunity,” said Sandhya Pandey, chief clinical nutritionist, Fortis Memorial Research Institute, Gurugram.
Pandey said that a balance of various food groups, such as whole grains, cereals, pulses, legumes, variety of seasonal fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, milk and milk products, lean meat and fish, along with engaging in physical activity and high-hydration levels, are needed to stay healthy.