| Residents purchase bottle gourds at a market near GPO roundabout on Friday. Picture by Ashok Sinha |
A day before Nahay Khay, bottle gourd (lauki) — an essential item on the menu for Chhath devotees — was considerably cheaper compared to previous years.
Reason: Huge inflow of the vegetable. Because of the rise in production, a few vendors kept waiting for customers.
The rates ranged between Rs 10 and Rs 40 per kg (wholesale and retail respectively).
Chandan Kumar, a supplier at Bazaar Samiti, said: “The production of bottle gourd rose this year, increasing the supply. Thus, the rates have gone down. Last year, around 150 tonne bottle gourd was supplied to the local market whereas this year it was 250 tonne.”
Shijmani Devi, 38, a wholesaler at Meethapur Sabzi Mandi, said: “We are waiting for customers to buy bottle gourd but the huge inflow this year has spoiled the business. Though I am selling bottle gourds at Rs 12 per kg, I am still waiting for customers. This year, I have bought 111kg bottle gourds but around 70kg is yet to be sold. Last year, I had sold two quintals at Rs 15-20 per kg.”
Ket Lal, a wholesaler at Anta Ghat, blamed the demand-supply ratio for the fall in price. “The supply at Anta Ghat this year is double compared to 2011. The rate, therefore, has not increased this year, as they had in the past years during Chhath. I am selling bottle gourd at Rs 10-12 per kg.”
Lal had sold bottle gourds at Rs 15 per kg in the last Chhath. Retailers at Anta Ghat sold bottle gourds at Rs 20 per kg. Bottle gourd at the market near GPO roundabout was being sold at Rs 40 per kg. However, a few vendors sold it for Rs 25.
The huge production followed by a good supply has come a cropper for the vendors. “Out of the 10kg bottle gourd that I had brought on Thursday, I have been able to sell just 3-4kg,” said Shanti, a vendor at GPO roundabout market. She was selling them for Rs 40 per kg.
Recalling last year’s bottle gourd price, a vendor, Baby, said she sold it at Rs 80 per kg.
Nisha Kiran, 34, who had come for shopping for her mother, who would be observing Chhath, had thought bottle gourd rates would be much higher ahead of Nahay Khay. But to her amusement, Kiran had to spend little on the essential item. “The rates are lower than my expectations,” she said.
Nirmala Singh, who is observing Chhath for the past 10 years, also found the rates of bottle gourd low. “The rates varied between Rs 50 and Rs 80 per kg last year. Whereas this year, I got bottle gourds for Rs 40 per kg.”