The demonetisation of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes has led to a drop in the arrival of fruits and vegetables (F&Vs) in wholesale markets such as the Azadpur Mandi in Delhi. It has also adversely impacted as many as 30,000 small F&V traders in Azadpur market and its four sub-mandis alone. But the sowing of rabi crop hasn’t been affected much, yet.
According to Raj Kumar Bhatia, general secretary, chamber of the Azadpur Fruit and Vegetable Traders Association, the arrival of fruits and vegetables have declined by around 10-15% since the demonetisation was announced the past week. The Azadpur mandi supplies more than 15,000 tonne of F&Vs to Delhi and the National Capital Region (NCR) on a daily basis, besides catering to consumers in most northern Indian cities.
“Those traders who conduct daily business of around R8000-R10,000 mostly in cash have been hit hard,” Bhatia said. He said these are small traders who are a vital link between the mandi and the retail shops. Around 2,300 commission agent or arthias procure fruits and vegetables from farmers while smaller traders buy and transport the same to various parts of the NCR. “Although we have been paying farmers through cheques, the current rush for currency conversion and withdrawals from ATMs have made it difficult for them to get money and and use it for purchase of agricultural inputs,” an official with Azadpur Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC), told FE.
Like Azadpur mandi, the country’s second largest wholesale F&V market in Vashi is also facing problems. On an average, 500 truckloads of fruits and vegetables are brought to the mandi from Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh every day (each truck having a capacity of 12-14 tonne). From Azadpur mandi, small trucks carry fruits and vegetables to local wholesale distributors and then sell the produce to retail consumers.
“Those who carry fruits and vegetables to various parts of the city have also been hit because of shortage of cash,” the official said.
According to an official with a start-up, which sells pre-packed fruits and vegetables through small retailers, they have stopped operations for next few days as retailers have been unable to arrange cash.
Meanwhile, farmers who have just commenced sowing of rabi crops — wheat, mustard in Punjab and Haryana — and have delayed purchase of vital inputs such as pesticides and fertilizers. However, a Punjab Mandi Board official said the situation is not alarming as the middlemen, who essentially pay the farmers by cheques, have been helping them with cash for buying inputs. “The situation is not so critical as things would settle down in the next one week or so,” Gurbhajan Singh Aulak of Punjab Mandi Board said.