Soaring vegetable prices add to common man’s misery

July 11th, 2009 - 2:07 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, July 11 (IANS) Forget about the more “fancy” broccoli or mushroom, even the humble potato, tomato and onion are inching away from the common man’s home budget. Due to the scanty rains, vegetable prices in the capital have soared so much that many families are cutting down on having more than one variety of vegetable on the table.
Much to peoples’ dismay, the prices of vegetables like potato and onion, which is used in almost every meal, have increased over the last few days to as much as Rs.18 and Rs.20 a kilo respectively in the capital.

The price of tomatoes, another veggie used regularly in Indian meals, has similarly shot up to almost Rs.40 a kilo.

Sarita Das, a housewife, lamented that her monthly budget has gone haywire because of the sudden increase in vegetable prices.

“The prices are simply impossible! After a lot of haggling, I bought a kilo of tomatoes today for Rs.38… Earlier, with that amount I would have bought a whole lot of vegetables. But what option do I have? I have to feed my family,” Das told IANS.

Sarika Jain, another home maker, spoke in a similar vein: “My husband is a salaried person and we have to run the house on a fixed budget. When prices of essential commodities like vegetables or groceries go up, we are definitely affected.”

“You can cut down on other luxuries but how can you tell your child to eat less? We now have to make do with just one variety of vegetable in one meal and try and compensate that in the next. The government must do something about this,” Jain said.

And even as they pay double the amount for vegetables, people complain that the quality of the vegetables has deteriorated.

“Either way we are getting the rough end of the deal,” Das said.

For Aamra, a student who is sharing a room with two friends, the high vegetable prices have made her re-think on the decision to cook meat once a week.

“I was tired of eating the usual bhindi (ladies finger) and lauki (gourd) and decided to buy beans. I was shocked when I asked the price of beans - Rs.80 a kilo. I realised I should eat more of non-veg now. Dressed chicken costs Rs.130 a kilo, so there is hardly any difference in the prices. We would eat non-veg once in a while thinking it is more expensive,” said Aamra.

According to Ashok Raj, a vegetable vendor in the wholesale vegetable market in Azadpur, the scanty rainfall is the main reason for the soaring vegetable prices.

“The delay in the monsoon and the scanty rainfall has dried the fields and affected the crops. This in turn has led to a rise in prices of vegetables,” Raj said.

According to the latest estimates of the India Meteorological Department (IMD), the seasonal rainfall during this year’s monsoon so far has been 43 percent below the long-term average.

Out of India’s 36 meteorological sub-divisions, rainfall was deficient or scanty in 29.

The IMD has announced the monsoon in the country to be “below normal” this year.

Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar admitted that the delayed monsoon was a “serious problem” in north India.

Ravi, another vendor, added: “Apart from the scanty monsoon, the big vegetable outlets are also responsible for the hike in prices because they buy the vegetables directly from farmers at low prices and sell them at double the amount.”

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