A compulsory vegetarian diet for many people in Shravan, considered a holy month for the Hindus, has not kept fish prices down in Ranchi.
Instead, prices have gone up considerably with traders ascribing the hike to an acute supply crunch brought about by the perception that most people will shun fish.
“Instead of four truckloads that reach Ranchi from Andhra Pradesh everyday, we get only one truckload. The rates at Howrah market have also gone up,” said Vijay Nishad, a commission agent for outstation firms at the Malhatoli wholesale market.
“I am not certain if suppliers know this month’s actual consumption demand,” he added, referring to the conventional logic that most people don’t have fish or chicken on their menu during Shravan.
However, the high demand for fish proves that it is not so. In fact, people are willing to pay more for fish.
The popular rohu or katla (Indian carp) that normally sells at Rs 80-90 per kg is now being sold for Rs 90-100 per kg in the wholesale market. Retailers hike it depending upon the area they do business in and other factors.
The state’s fish production has always remained less than the actual demand, with the shortfall made up by imports from Andhra Pradesh and Bengal. Against a required 1.15 lakh MT a year, production stood around 70,000 MT until a year ago.
“The figure has now gone up to over 90,000 MT,” a fisheries official who did not want to be named, said, admitting a shortfall of around 20 per cent remained.
Locally bred fishes are always more in demand, their freshness and taste attracting a higher price than the imports. But they are not enough to satisfy demand, raising prices further.
“We were selling local fish for around Rs 120 per kg. Now, the rate has gone up to over Rs 140 per kg, depending on the size of the fish,” said Rajendra Nishad, a veteran fish retailer at Doranda market.
“There is not enough fish in the market. What’s more, once I am here to shop for fish, I find the local catch more tempting than the imports. Though the pocket pinch is more, I don’t mind paying for taste,” said fish-lover M.K. Roy at Doranda market.
Do you have non-vegetarian fare during Shravan?