Veggie rates trim & slim menus

Retailers Away From Markets, Buyers Flock To Malls For Weekly Shopping
When homemaker Uma Batra made kadhi for the third time in six days, her family protested mildly .“I know I will have to cook some vegetables for curry tomorrow. But everything is just too costly. Regular monsoon stuff like capsicum, coriander, spinach, cucumber, okra are all selling at a premium. I can hardly manage the budget,“ she said.

A strike called on Sunday by retail vegetable vendors has affected the sales in different parts of the city . They are protesting against the commission being charged by the sales agents in the wholesale market. Malls,on the other hand with vegetable and fruit sections were teeming with buyers stocking up for the week ahead.

As collateral damage, many local area vegetable markets remained shut even on Monday. The strikers have sought time with guardian minister Girish Bapat and even requested chief minister Devendra Fadnavis to intervene. Meanwhile, vegetable prices are soaring northwards.

A new government resolution (GR) passed by the state government has announced shifting the burden of the commission from farmers to the retailers, which the latter say is infeasible. Small unions of retailers from different parts of the city also staged a protest in Market Yard on Sunday .

Shivlal Bhosale, president of the Market Yard commission agents’ association, said, “We have unsuccessfully tried to make these retailers see reason. However, they have some issues which they are trying to sort out with the government.“

Anil Prajapati, a retailer in Model Colony area, said, “It is impossible for us to pay such a heavy commission to the agents. All put together, they end up earning a lot from us while we suffer and have no option but to pass on the burden to the consumers who often strike a hard bargain,“ he added.

The lack of unity within the groups is likely to prevent any serious effect on the market. A large chunk of stock in the wholesale market got buyers by Monday evening, indicating a break in the stalemate.

An onion wholesaler said, “There was not much on sale on Sunday because of the protest by the retailers. But we sold quite a lot of stock on Monday . It is not easy for small retailers to shut business for too long. We are confident that their strike will fizzle out.“

Either ways, citizens who end up suffering, said Bageshri Parakeet, a teacher who purchased vegetables on Monday .

“The prices are too high now. In the past few weeks, I have reduced the amount of vegetables I buy . Combined with the high prices of fruits, the family budget is totally topsy-turvy . But it’s not healthy to eat just gravies too for so long, the body needs the nutrients in the vegetables. It may still be affordable for middle-income families, but I really worry about my house help,“ she said.

Sunil Kudale, president of the Pimpri vegetable market association, said, “Retailers all over Pune district are on strike. We are not against the farmers, but this hefty rate of commission will need to be passed on to the buyers which we want to avoid.“

Source : TOI