Bhubaneswar, Oct. 29: Prices of vegetables at Udyan Fresh outlets are no doubt less than the those available in the market. However, buyers would prefer that they are low enough to put pressure on other sellers, so that they are forced to reduce their rates.
Udyan Fresh offers a breather amid skyrocketing vegetable prices in the wake of Phailin and floods, especially in the holy month of Kartik, when a large number of people prefer to eat vegeterian food.
The floods, caused by incessant rain following the cyclone in many parts of the state, have damaged crops and disconnected means of transport, shooting up the vegetable prices.
Set up at various places in the city in collaboration with the directorate of horticulture and a private company, the Udyan Fresh kiosks have been are selling vegetables at a marginally lower price than the market rates.
Customers not only feel the prices should be even lower at the kiosks, but also want more outlets because their number is insufficient to meet the demand.
“During the holy month of Kartik, people prefer to eat vegetarian and therefore, prices usually remain on the higher side. But this time, the rain and the floods have added to our woes. Purchasing items from the government-regulated Udyan Fresh kiosks gives a little rebate though not much compared to the market rates,” said Sailashree Vihar resident Sailabala Senapati.
An official of Udyan Fresh said their Sailashree Vihar kiok saw the maximum footfall on a daily basis. Yesterday, 434 buyers purchased vegetables from there. But on other days, the number remains on the higher side of 500. There are 11 Udyan Fresh outlets in Bhubaneswar and one is in Cuttack.
The Udyan Fresh sales team claims that prices here are less than the market rates, and over the past few days, they have been witnessing a good turnout. “Our price remains less by Rs 2 to Rs 10 than the rates of the same vegetables at other markets,” said a salesman in the Udyan Fresh kiosk at Unit-II.
“Onion is sold here at Rs 60, which is equal to the market price. But, prices of other vegetables are less by Re 1 to Rs 2. Here we can save a few rupees,” said Saheed Nagar resident Shaktikant Panda.
Managing director of the Udyan Fresh Bijay Kumar Mahapatra said the registered farmers often sold vegetables to the store at a higher rate citing the market condition. Besides, they had to add about 15 per cent cost for transport and cold storage.
“We cannot overlook the farmers’ interest. So, we directly purchase the produce from them at the prices they offer. Yet, we manage to sell products at a little lower rate than the market price. We aim to provide our customers the best products. We, therefore, do not sell dried or damaged stuff, though in this way, we have to incur a loss of Rs 10 lakh every month,” said Mahapatra.
He said they got vegetables from Panposh, Baragarh, Boudh, Raikia, Baliguda and Koraput, which were not affected by either Phailin or floods. After they install the cold storage facilities, they will be able to store vegetables for longer and the prices can also be further controlled as there is an ample stock.
An official in the directorate of horticulture said they monitored the prices at the kiosks.
“We fix the rates, and the kiosk owners have to follow them. Given the current situation, we also have to look into the farmers’ interest. If the government instructs us, we will sell vegetables at even lower prices,” said deputy director of the directorate Swayam Bikash Das.