Prices shoot up as veggie stocks dwindle

Two Back-To-Back Strikes In A Fortnight Leave Consumers Short Of Supply Of Essentials
It’s only mid-week and stocks of vegetables with the retailers are drying up, and there will be no fresh supplies anytime soon unless the retail vegetable vendors’ strike is called off.Consumers, meanwhile, will continue to pay high prices for their staples.

Tuesday was the third day of the strike, which sent prices of kitchen essentials skyrocketing. Markets were closed in most areas of the city , and the few that were open had three-day-old stocks.

Vegetable prices are skyhigh with tomato selling for Rs 80 per kg, while cauliflower sold for Rs 100 per kg, and green chillies reaching a high of Rs 200 per kg.

An average increase of 10 15% was seen for most vegetables in the market.

“There is one strike after another; first by the commission agents at the Agriculture Produce Market Committee (APMC), and now by retailers.The result is the same and consumers have to pay more for poor quality vegetables as we have no option. No one concerned about us,“ Bhandarkar Road homemaker Rutuja Sawant said.

A new resolution by the state government has passed the burden of six per cent paid to commission agents, who act as middlemen between farmers and retailers, to retailers who claim they have to bear other costs and paying the agents would leave them with nothing as profit.

At a news conference in Mahatma Phule Mandai in the city, the retailers demanded that the role of commission agents be eliminated. They claim that getting rid of the commission agents and letting the farmers sell directly in the open market will benefit the retailers, farmers and the consumers.

Accusing the government of not listening to them, Padmashree Patil, secretary of Swami Samarth Shetimaal Vyapari Sanghatna said, “The standard procedure when you pass a law that affects various stakeholders is you speak to all of them. But the committee that made this recommendation had no representative from us, even though this affects our livelihood.“

She also said that the government had not communicated with them even once after their strike started, although they have repeatedly sought time from chief minister Devendra Fadnavis and guardian minister Girish Bapat. Claiming that the rela tionship of trust between the agents and the retailers had been eroded because of malpractices of the agents she added, “The agents have permission to sell to only 2-3 retailers, but they sell to 7-8 of their own people. Their people get the cream of the crop, while we are given inferior quality produce.“ Shivlal Bhosale, chairman of the Market Yard Commission Agents’ Association, said, “If some people say certain things, they don’t hold any meaning. The law is what matters, and we function according to the law. Retailers are free to go to the fields and buy the produce from the farmers themselves. They won’t have to pay commission then.“

Source : TOI