Vegetable prices have crashed in most mandis across the country on a bumper crop following a good monsoon this season. Farmers across different parts of Maharashtra have begun distributing free vegetables or selling them at nominal rates since they are unable to recover the cost of production.
Many farmers across the country, especially of potato and onion, are leaving their crop unharvested due to realisation fetching lower than the cost of harvesting and transportation to mandis. For farmers, therefore, onion and potato are fetching R1-2 per kg at the farm gate. “If this trend continues, farmers will not cultivate vegetables next year,” Shriram Gadhave, president, Vegetable Growers Association of India (VGAI) said.
Experts estimate at least 10-15% increase in vegetables’ production this year. Top mandi officials attribute the fall in prices to mismatch in supply and demand as a result of which most vegetables are selling below R10 per kg in these mandis.
Prices have dipped since production is usually up in the month of January but we expect prices to settle in a few weeks, said Avinash Deshpande, Joint Secretary, Vashi, Agriculture Produce Market Committee (APMC).
According to Sanjay Pansare, Director, Fruit Market, Vashi APMC, delisting of vegetables and fruits from the scope of APMC, demonetisation and increased arrivals on account of higher production have together led to the fall in market prices. At least 100 trucks (10 tonnes each) of green peas arrive at Vashi on a daily basis and while these were earlier sold at R30-40 per kg, wholesale rates have now crashed to some R7-8 per kg,” he pointed out.
A total of some 650 trucks of vegetables arrive in the Vashi market on a daily basis and farmers are now forced to dispose off their crop because of their perishable nature, he said. Green peas arrivals are expected to continue for the next 15 days.
Fruits and vegetables contribute over R3,000 crore to the Vashi APMC’s yearly turnover of R10,000-12,000 crore.
“The sharp decline in prices indicates huge production this year. Normally, vegetable prices decline only in case of bumper supplies and lower purchases. Currently, the market is also facing demonetisation issue,” senior officials said.
“Good monsoon rainfall helped improve acreage under vegetables. Since the climatic condition was also good with no crop damage reported anywhere across the country, the vegetable output is likely to remain bumper this year.
Also, stockists are facing a huge shortage of liquidity due to demonetisation resulting into lower lifting from stockists,” said Gadhave, president, Vegetables Grower Association of India.
His association has written to Union agriculture minister Radha Mohan seeking compensation for farmers for the losses caused in the wake of demonetisation. Because of lack of demand, farmers are forced to put up tempos in most areas selling their vegetebales at R2-5 per kg which does not augur well for the future, he warned.
“Most seasonal vegetables have plunged since December as stockists remained absent from the market. Owing to high moisture content, stockists await a change in climate from extremely cold weather to a warm weather to start procurement for stocking.compensation for farmers but there has been little response from the government.