Bad weather, high prices for vegetables

Cold-wave and foggy conditions in North India have hit truck movement, affecting availability of some vegetables in cities like Delhi and driving up prices. The weather, along with light rains, has also hampered growth of winter vegetables that are in the fields.

Cauliflower, capsicum, brinjal, okra and bitter gourd have become 20-50% costlier because of short supply. Traders expect the sky to become clear and the supply situation to improve in 15-20 days. But some retailers say prices could go up even higher if temperatures fall further and ground frost damages vegetable crops. If the prices continue to remain high or rise further, they could impact inflation that has been slowing down for some time now and become a political issue in the Delhi assembly elections which are yet to be scheduled.

Rising demand from Pakistan for Indian tomatoes has also led to a spike in prices. “Daily 20 trucks of tomato are going from Delhi towards Pakistan. Prices have risen by 10% to Rs20 a kg in the past 10-15 days,” said Mahinder Sanpal, a vegetable trader in Delhi.

Traders from Bengaluru, Nashik and Mumbai who send onion, pomegranate, cabbage, orange, cauliflower, okra, drumsticks and elephant foot yam to Delhi say the time taken to transport the vegetables has increased because of the weather conditions. Shriram Gadhave, president of the All India Vegetable Growers Association, said trucks were taking 50 hours to travel from Nashik to Delhi compared with 35-40 hours earlier.

In retail, prices of most vegetables were double of that in wholesale. “Traders say that arrival from Gujarat and Rajasthan is slow,” said Krishna Kumar, a street vendor in Pitampura in northwest Delhi. Prices of root vegetables such as potato, radish, carrot, sweet potato and beetroot were stable, he said.

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