Though India's Consumer Price Index-based retail inflation moderated slightly in August, there seems to be no respite from the spiralling prices of vegetables and fruits in the country, and there is very little hope of a quick relief.
Traders said that it will take at least a month for the new crop of green vegetables to start arriving in the markets and the prices of vegetables will come down only after the arrival of new crop.
The retail inflation was recorded at 6.69 per cent in August this year, while it was 6.73 per cent in July. Meanwhile, the inflation rate of vegetables was recorded at 11.41 per cent in August while it was 11.29 per cent in July.
Vegetable prices started going up from June, before skyrocketing in July and August. The wholesale price of tomato, which came down to less than Rs 2 per kg in the mandis of Delhi in May and June, has now gone up to Rs 50 per kg. In the retail market, tomatoes are currently being sold at a price between Rs 60 and Rs 90 per kg.
The prices of potato and onion, along with other green vegetables, have also gone up.In order to control the spiralling prices by increasing the domestic availability of onions, the Government of India had on Monday banned the export of all varieties of the crop.
The retail price of potato has also almost doubled in the last two months.The President of the Chambers of Azadpur Fruits and Vegetables Association, M.R. Kripalani, told IANS that prices of vegetables are going up due to crop failure in the rainy season, and the arrival of new crops will start only after October 15. Hence, there is very little possibility of vegetable prices coming down, he added.
Kripalani, however, said that prices of fruits have been declining due to more arrivals. But due to the high demand in the festive season, prices will not come down drastically, he warned.
However, he added that due to the ban on onion exports, prices may remain stable.
Rajendra Sharma, General Secretary of Azadpur Mandi Potato Onion Merchant Association (POMA), also said that the export ban would put a halt on rising onion prices.Sharma said that due to poor onion crop in South India, there is a supply shortage. He suggested that the government should consider importing onions along with a ban on export of the crop.
According to the 2nd Advance Production data released by the Union Ministry of Agriculture, the production of potatoes in the country during the year 2019-20 was 513 lakh tonnes as compared to 501.90 lakh tonnes in 2018-19.
Similarly, onion production in the country was 267.4 lakh tonnes in the previous crop year of 2019-20 as compared to 228.2 lakh tonnes in 2018-19.
On Tuesday, wholesale price of onion at the Azadpur mandi was Rs 13 to Rs 27.50 per kg, while potato was priced at Rs 12 to Rs 51 per kg. At the same time, the wholesale price of tomato was Rs 12 to Rs 52 per kg.
As far as the retail prices of vegetables per kg in Delhi-NCR are concerned, as on Sunday, potatoes were sold for Rs 40-50, cauliflower Rs 140, cabbage Rs 60, tomato Rs 60-90, onion Rs 40-50, gourd, okra, cucumber, brinjal, raw banana and bitter gourd at Rs 60, pumpkin Rs 50, capsicum Rs 100, spinach Rs 80 and raw papaya Rs 50, among others.
However, the retail prices of vegetables per kg in June this year suggest a different story. Potato was sold for RS 20-25, cabbage Rs 30-40, tomato Rs 20-30, onion Rs 20-25, gourd Rs 20, ladies finger, cucumber, brinjal at Rs 20, pumpkin Rs 10-15, capsicum Rs 60 and bitter gourd Rs 15-20.