The Telegraph
Thursday , June 14 , 2012
Since 1st March, 1999
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Pricey greens bring on the blues

Bhubaneswar, June 13: If being a vegetable means becoming “immobile”, that word must take on its opposite meaning at markets in the state capital. Veggies have become very mobile indeed, at least on the price charts, shooting swiftly skyward.

You might consider replacing these nutrient-packed items on the menu with poultry or fish, as a gap in demand and supply results in some vegetables, such as bitter gourd and beans, being sold for Rs 100 per kilogram.

Fruits, too, have become costlier, and with Raja round the corner, their prices are expected to climb further northwards.

The vegetables found at the capital’s markets usually come from parts of Khurda, Cuttack, Pipili and Kakatpur. But with the heat-wave conditions withering local crop, traders are having to depend on states such as Andhra Pradesh, Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Chhattisgarh for their supply. A shortage in locally grown vegetables and insufficient supply of vegetables imported from other states are pushing up prices.

“It is common for vegetable prices to be slightly high in summer, but this year the prices are unusually high. Take Rs 100 to the market and you will come home with a few vegetables lying at the bottom of your shopping bag,” said Samapika Samantray, a homemaker.

Vendors held the heat-wave conditions and lack of rain responsible for the soaring prices. The price of bitter gourd has gone up because the vegetable is locally grown and lack of rain has resulted in poor harvest. Similarly, beans are imported from neighbouring states, but poor yield in those areas have resulted in the price of beans shooting up to Rs 100 per kilo.

“By this time of the year, we usually have vegetables from local areas at our shops. But absence of rain has affected the yield of locally available vegetables. We really can’t help but sell vegetables at higher prices as we are buying them at a much higher rate,” said Akshya Sahoo, a vendor at the Unit-I Daily Market. He said most vendors were not stocking beans and bitter gourds, as customers seem to be shying away from buying these super expensive items.

However, the vegetables supplied from neighbouring states are being sold at a lower price compared to vegetables procured from local markets. The prices of veggies such as tomato, cabbage and cauliflower, all of which are imported from other states, have remained static and are lower than that of locally grown vegetables.

“It is surprising that bitter gourd is being sold at Rs 100 per kilo. In my 20 years of stay in the capital, I have never come across such high vegetable prices. We have been replacing vegetarian items on the menu with non-vegetarian ones for the past 15 days,” said Jaladhar Behera, a government employee.

It’s not only the greens that have become dearer, fruit prices too have shot up, adding to the woes of consumers. With Raja beginning tomorrow, fruit prices are expected to rise further. Prices of almost all fruits, including mango, jackfruit and pineapple, have gone up.

Secretary of the Raw Vegetable Merchants’ Association Kabiraj Swain said the prices would remain high until monsoon hits the state. “Once the rains come, the production of locally grown vegetables will rise. The high temperature has taken a toll on vegetable production,” said Swain.