Heavy rains in Tamil Nadu disrupt vegetable supplies in Kerala; prices soar

Written by M Sarita Varma | Thiruvananthapuram | Updated: Dec 19 2010, 04:44am hrs
Vegetable prices in Kerala have sky-rocketed because of shortage in supply from Tamil Nadu and high local demand due to Sabarimala pilgrimage season.

Besides, heavy rains in vegetable-growing regions of Tamil Nadu and rising demand within the state for Sabarimala fast season, pre-festival stock-building by vegetable exporters in Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh has also affected supplies in local wholesale markets, G Kaliappan, secretary, wholesale vegetable merchants association, told FE. Ironically, exports of perishable cargo to the Gulf has not been affected. Price of onion is in the Rs 40-42 range this week compared to Rs 30, last month. From Rs 25 per kilo, the price of the modest drumstick has moved up to a whopping Rs 65-90 per kilo in the last fortnight.

Price of okra (ladys finger) and cabbage has climbed to Rs 28, carrot to Rs 42 a kg and cowpea to Rs 34 per kg. Price of onion had moved up to Rs 40 a kg while price of shallots had eased slightly over the month to Rs.30 a kg. Bitter gourd costs Rs 50 per kg, where a month ago, the price was relatively sweet at Rs 36 per kg.

Only potato, tapioca, banana (nendran variety), raw mango and tapioca seemed relatively immune to inflation, says NH Shameed, general secretary, Ernakulam Market Stall Owners Association. Although onion price is ruling high, that of shallots has slightly fallen to Rs 30 per kg.

The vegetable inflow to Kerala markets from Tamil Nadu farms have come down at least 25%, following rains in Kambam, Theni and Kanyakumari ares of Tamil Nadu. In Chalai market of Thiruvanathapuram, vegetable supplies have tapered from an average of 20 lorry loads per day to 15 lorry loads per day. In Kochi, this has gone down from an average of 22 lorry loads to 16 lorry loads per day. One lorry load is approximately 15 tonne vegetables.

It is usual that there is higher vegetable demand from households in December, but crop damage in Tamil Nadu has not so far coincided with this demand, says MKamalakannan from Shuchindram, who plies vegetable lorries from Kanyakumari to Kerala markets.

According to a study in 2004, Kerala imports about Rs 1,000-crore worth vegetables from Tamil Nadu and South Karnataka. Two years ago, Kerala Government had worked out a plan for creating 1,000 organic vegetable villages, bringing 5,000 hectares of land under vegetable cultivation.