De­spite win­ter, prices of veggies con­tinue to soar

Gap be­tween re­tail & whole­sale price in Delhi high­est in coun­try

Financial Chronicle - - FRONT PAGE - FC BUREAU

CON­SUMERS wait­ing for cool­ing down of veg­eta­bles prices with the on­set of win­ter may have to wait longer. Prices of onion, tomato and potato, the most sta­ple of all veggies, con­tinue to rule high while oth­ers such as green peas are soar­ing with­out any respite.

As Delhi de­pends on sup­plies from other states, short­age of veg­eta­bles is be­ing blamed for the surge in prices in the city.

While the re­tail price of tomato has gone up to Rs 60-70 per kg, green peas, which is a win­ter veg­etable, is be­ing sold at Rs 70 per kg and above. In some up mar­ket colonies, ven­dors are charg­ing even Rs 100 a kg for green peas.

The av­er­age re­tail price of onion was rul­ing at Rs 15 per kg in April and grad­u­ally rose to Rs 35 a kg in July. By Oc­to­ber-end, the rate had crossed Rs 50, as per min­istry of con­sumer af­fairs data. How­ever, lo­cal ven­dors are sell­ing at Rs 6570 per kg, de­pend­ing on the qual­ity and lo­cal­ity in Delhi. A sim­i­lar rise in prices of onion was wit­nessed in other cities also.

The in­ter­mit­tent rise and fall in prices of veg­eta­bles has be­come a reg­u­lar phe­nom­e­non in the city as the state gov­ern­ment and Cen­tre blame on ap­por­tion.

Delhi is heav­ily de­pen­dent on sup­ply of veg­eta­bles from other states and any short­age in sup­ply re­sults in price hikes. The sup­ply of to­ma­toes and onions is from Hi­machal Pradesh, Ut­tarak­hand, Ut­tar Pradesh, Ma­ha­rash­tra, Mad­hya Pradesh, Ra­jasthan and Haryana.

“We have found that the gap be­tween re­tail and whole­sale price in Delhi is the high­est in the coun­try and it is the state gov­ern­ment, which has to plan to re­duce this,” a con­sumer min­istry of­fi­cial said.

He also said that when pulses prices rose last year, a study was con­ducted that showed the gap be­tween re­tail and whole­sale price in Delhi at 38 per cent whereas in most other places it is within 10 per cent.

Asked about onion prices, he ques­tioned the si­lence of the Delhi gov­ern­ment while the need is to take pro-ac­tive steps. “Why can’t they build or hire some stor­age space in Nashik dis­trict (the largest grow­ing dis­trict) and store onion when the pro­duce is har­vested,” he asked.

Rains have not only dam­aged the tomato crop, but has also af­fected trans­porta­tion, ac­cord­ing to AK Singh, deputy di­rec­tor (hor­ti­cul­ture) with the ICAR.

Tomato is nor­mally sold at Rs 20-30 a kg this time, while it is not sell­ing be­low Rs 60 a kg in any place, said Neha Sharma, a res­i­dent of Noida.

She also com­plained that green peas have be­come out of reach, as prices are dou­ble at this point of time while it was about Rs 30-40 a kg last year.

Com­mis­sion agents at Azad­pur said sup­plies of green peas are less this year as there is in­for­ma­tion about in­creased de­mand from pro­ces­sors, who keep the com­mod­ity frozen for year-round sale.

Ear­lier, the Delhi gov­ern­ment had con­sti­tuted var­i­ous teams of of­fi­cers and di­rected them to sub­mit a daily re­port on the prices of veg­eta­bles in the whole­sale mar­kets.

The pos­si­bil­ity of these com­modi­ties be­ing hoarded could not be ruled out, an of­fi­cial of the food and civil sup­plies de­part­ment of Delhi gov­ern­ment had said re­cently.

But the Cen­tre has or­dered im­port of onions through state trad­ing firm MMTC. Last week, the gov­ern­ment al­lowed agen­cies like MMTC to im­port onion from coun­tries like Egypt and China to in­crease avail­abil­ity and cool re­tail prices.

Con­sumer af­fairs min­is­ter Ram Vi­las Paswan on Oc­to­ber 31 had termed the rise in onion and tomato prices as ‘sea­sonal fac­tor’, and said that the sit­u­a­tion would nor­malise in a week or so on im­proved sup­plies of fresh crops.

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