The Telegraph
Thursday , April 17 , 2014
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Pricey veggies do a poll vault

Ranchi, April 16: Healthy eating is both within your reach and beyond this election season.

The paradox lies in the price of vegetables and fruits, which are being curiously affected because commercial vehicles have been pulled away for poll duty.

While vegetables have become remarkably cheaper in wholesale markets because there are no trucks to send local produce to other states, fruits are acting pricey because they are mostly brought in from the western and southern parts of the country.

Md Hasim of Hasim Bhola & Co. — a prominent wholesaler at Daily Market, Ranchi, explained the quirky phenomenon. “Since trucks have been seized for the elections, the vegetable bowls of Ranchi such as Kanke, Bero, Mandar as well as those of Lohardaga and Gumla districts are unable to sell their produce outside. So, prices have dropped by almost 50 per cent in about a week. On the other hand, fruits mostly come from outside and hence, the pocket pinch, which will last for another month or so,” he said.

Highlighting wholesale prices, he further said: “We were selling kaddu (pumpkin) at Rs 14 a kg and the current price is Rs 5-7. Similarly, the rate of other vegetables are fluctuating too (see box).” He added that normally a chunk of this local produce is sent to Bihar and Bengal, besides Jharkhand’s Hazaribagh.

Dasrath Sahu, a vegetable vendor at Lalpur, corroborated Hasim. “Potato cost Rs 16/kg in wholesale and Rs 18/kg in retail. Now, you are getting it at Rs 12/kg (wholesale) and selling it at Rs 14/kg (retail). The pricey onion was Rs 18/kg. In the wholesale market, it is Rs 14/kg now,” he said.

Sahu, however, added that the dip in wholesale rates did not always guarantee a fall in retail prices. “Reasons there are two. First, since the poll effect is temporary, retail vendors don’t slash prices and try to earn more profit. Second, retail prices depend on immediate circumstances. For instance, vegetables sell at their highest rate during midday and lowest in late evening,” he explained.

While the polls have somewhat humbled vegetables, fruits continue to act pricey.

Sudhir — owner of Sudhir Fruit Sales, a wholesale outlet in Harmu — said they were incurring heavy expenses in ferrying consignments. A truck from Nasik (Maharashtra) and fruit baskets of Andhra Pradesh is charging anything between Rs 25,000 and Rs 30,000.

“The wholesale price of Fuji apple is Rs 140/kg; at retail, it is selling at Rs 150-160. Red apple variety’s wholesale cost is Rs 170-180/kg and in retail over Rs 200/kg,” Sudhir said, adding that every fruit had scaled the wholesale price ladder by Rs 15-20 per kg.

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