If the rising prices of vegetables are worrying you, blame it on the subdued monsoon in the city and state. And if the scanty rain situation persists, prices are expected to go through the roof. Some vegetables, it's possible, may even vanish from the market.
According to data prepared by the Agriculture Produce Market Committee (APMC) at the Vashi wholesale market, on Monday, onions were sold at Rs20 per kg as against Rs10 a month ago, while potato cost Rs18-20 per kg as against Rs10-15 last month. The price of cabbage, lady's finger, cauliflower and other vegetables too soared drastically in one month.
"In the retail market, no vegetable is available for less than Rs60 a kg. I am scared to shop for vegetables these days," said a housewife from Colaba, Vijaya Kharkar.
APMC Vashi director Ashok Walunj told dna, "If there isn't adequate rainfall, vegetable production in Nashik and other places will be badly hit and this will further fuel price rise. The central and state governments should fix minimum support price for all vegetables. This way farmers will not be deprived of a reasonable return on their investment. This will also benefit consumers."
"The solution to doing away with high prices is the elimination of middlemen. Vegetables should be directly sold to consumers by bypassing APMC, which is controlled by political elements out to exploit the situation," said Goregaon resident Manjiri Kulkarni.
The BJP-led central government recently imposed a minimum export price of $300 per tonne for onion. According to market watchers, this will help curb onion export and cool rising domestic prices.
On Monday, the Centre also decided to raise its import duty on sugar to 40% from 15%. This has added 50 paise to the price of sugar per kg — Rs31.50 in the wholesale market.
APMC director Sanjay Pingale said, "Supply of vegetables has dropped drastically. As a result, there is a steep rise in prices. Hopefully, the rains should come any day now and, with the arrival of the new crop, prices will ease."
Madhuri Rane, a resident of Wadala, told dna that retail prices are almost double than wholesale rates. "If the prices continue to soar like this, the day will come when we will have to stop eating vegetables.
Beside veggies, rates of other food items are also shooting up," she added.
A farmer from Nashik, Rajesh Patil, blamed the Modi government for imposing a cap on export of onion. He said during the Lok Sabha campaign BJP had promised good rates to farmers, but nothing has come of it.
"BJP is following anti-farmer policy. We will oppose it tooth and nail. If there is no rainfall, how are we going to water our crops? The rates depend on demand and supply. If there is less supply and more demand, prices will go up. The government should bring innovative policies that will help farmers as well as consumers," said Patil.