Shooting prices, falling sales

Monday Musing

[ M Doley ]
The stiff rise in the prices of vegetables in the markets of the capital complex in the recent past put the consumers’ budgets in total disarray.
According to local vendors, vegetable prices are rising sharply due to supply shortage as unseasonal heavy rains damaged crops.
While the retail price of onion – an essential ingredient in countless recipes – shot up to Rs 100 per kg, as against Rs 30-40 per kg three months ago, green peas are being sold at a staggering price of Rs 200 per kg.
The current market prices of varieties of vegetables are: Peas – Rs 200, ginger – Rs 160, broccoli – Rs 140, chilli – Rs 120-200, onion, carrot, beans – Rs 100, cauliflower – Rs 80, tomato – Rs 70, bitter gourd, radish, brinjal, potol (pointed gourd) and kohlrabi (cabbage turnip) – Rs 60, and potato (new supply) – Rs 40 to Rs 50 per kg.
Further, a small bunch of lai patta (romain lettuce) and a bunch of coriander (made up of four to five stalks) is being sold at Rs 20.
Furthermore, there is no uniformity in the prices in the markets of Itanagar and Naharlagun. Most of the vegetables are supplied from Bomdila (West Kameng), Kharupetia and Nagaon (Assam), and Shillong (Meghalaya), and the prices of the vegetables depend on where they come from. The readers must already have an idea about the prices of the vegetables that are currently available in the markets.
“We sold onions for Rs 30/kg three months ago. Now the wholesale rate of onion is Rs 80 per kg, which has forced us to sell it for Rs 100/kg for the last few days,” Braja, who runs a vegetable shop in a popular market situated in the heart of Itanagar, said. He said there is a possibility of further rise in the vegetables’ prices if the situation continues.
Not surprisingly, with the prices of vegetables skyrocketing, there has been a sharp decline in sales.
Vegetable sales in the Akashdeep market have dropped by almost 80 percent compared to the previous years, the vendors said. They attributed it mainly to the increase in the number of ‘daily’ and ‘weekly’ markets. They further informed that many vendors in Akashdeep were forced to fold up their businesses due to the drastic drop in sales. It is, however, unclear whether there has been a fall in the purchasing capacity of the consumers.
Meanwhile, the state government, particularly the department concerned, seems unaware of the situation as no attempt has been made so far to bring relief to the people who are troubled by the peaking prices of essential items.
The department should be prompt in its action to control the rising prices, and issue an order, if necessary, asking the wholesale traders to limit their stocks to stop hoarding and black-marketing – a possibility which cannot be ruled out in the present situation.
It is observed that the administration fixes the prices of some of the consumer items from time to time without taking any follow-up actions.
A couple of months ago, the administration had fixed the prices of various kinds of meat. But the meat sellers have never complied with the order.
In a consumer state like Arunachal, fixing the prices of vegetables, meat and fish definitely would bear no fruits since the prices of these items depend solely on the simple economic circle of production, supply and demand.
However, it is heartening to learn that quality vegetables and fruits produced in places like Bomdila have been able to grab the markets in Arunachal as well as in the neighbouring states. Arunachal, with its abundant land resources and varied climatic conditions, has huge potential to grow vegetables on a much larger scale.
While there are 13 Krishi Vigyan Kendras in Arunachal to extend technical know-how on agricultural farming, besides the agriculture department, financial institutions like the NABARD are there to extend financial assistance to the farmers under their various schemes. A little more effort and hard work by the people, particularly unemployed educated youths, can turn Arunachal into a self-sufficient state in the agriculture sector, especially in vegetable production.