Vegetable prices up on higher spoilage; tomatoes treble in Mumbai

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After moving in a narrow range for several weeks, green vegetables have started firming up in spot Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC) yards because of the long dry spell and frequent changes in weather, resulting in high spoilage.

Data compiled by the government-owned Agmarknet showed okra (bhindi) in the Ahmedabad APMC jumped 80 per cent over the past month to trade currently at Rs 45 a kg; at the Bengaluru wholesale market, it doubled to Rs 28 a kg. The same vegetable in Mumbai and Kolkata, however, rose only 11 per cent and 8 per cent, to trade at Rs 20 a kg in both APMCs there.

Bitter gourd in Mumbai is up 20 per cent since May 20, to trade this Friday at Rs 24 a kg in the wholesale market. Tomato prices have risen threefold in a month, following high spoilage.

“Groundwater levels have slipped further. Rainfall for the current season is also deficient. So, farmers that started sowing through manual irrigation have started worrying about the distribution of rain this monsoon. And, intermittent rain has made fields wet — deep mud comes with plants while harvesting of vegetable crops. Therefore, the chances of spoilage are high in vegetables being harvested today. Warm weather during no-rainfall time has also supported spoilage of vegetables on the field and in transit,” said Shri Ram Gadhave, president, Vegetables Growers Association of India.

The National Horticulture Board said arrival of okra in the Delhi mandi was 7.1 tonnes on Friday, a decline from 7.8 tonnes a month before.

“Vegetables prices are likely to remain firm over the next two months. Normally, during the monsoon season, supply gets disrupted from farm to mandi as truckers avoid plying due to poor conditions of roads. There seems no change in the condition this year. Hence, vegetables prices might remain bullish during the current monsoon season,” said Sanjay Bhujbal, a Vashi-based wholesaler.

The Union agriculture ministry’s second advance estimates forecast vegetable output at 175 million tonnes in 2016-17, from 169 mt a year before. The area under vegetables is estimated to have gone up to 10.29 million hectares, from 10.1 mn ha the previous year