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Wholesale vegetable and fruit prices have crashed due to the cash crunch in the market but retailers continue to hold prices to make the best of a situation in which buyers have cut back purchases.
“Every ahrtiya is ordering one-third of the supplies he used to because of the limited cash available with him. The retailers also do not have enough cash to pay for what they buy from the wholesalers. The cycle is moving on the strength of credit only. Most of us are giving 3-4 days credit,” said Amarvir Singh, president of Wholesale Fruit and Vegetable Sellers’ Association, Ludhiana.
Rasheed, an ahrtiya who works in Malerkotla’s vegetable mandi that sends vegetables to mandis in Ludhiana, Jalandhar, Moga and a large part of Punjab apart from Jammu, said, “Cauliflower is available with me at Rs 3 a kg while potato coming from cold stores is available in the range of Rs 4-5 a kg. You can take a sack full of gobhi at the rate of Rs 2 or Rs 3 a kg from me and I am ready to give 50 kg aaloo in the range of Rs 200-250 a kg. Most ahrtiyas are selling at this rate only.” Last week, wholesale cauliflower was priced at Rs 8-10 per kg. Carrot, which was available at 20 a kg, is now priced at Rs 10 in wholesale market and methi and palak are available at Rs 5-6 a kg against the previous rate of Rs 9-10 a kg in most mandis of Punjab.
Amarvir said, “A box of apple is available at Rs 500 against the previous price of Rs 600. Almost everything is cheap. Retailers are buying it cheap from us. What prices they are selling, we have no idea.”
The worst hit are farmers who have to sell the produce at dirt cheap prices as there is no point stocking perishable vegetables. “We are sending our full stock to mandis as we have no choice. We can’t hoard,” said Amarjeet Singh, a vegetable grower from Bhurrekalan village of Ferozepur. “A few farmers near Hussaniwala are giving a carrot bag of 50 kg for Rs 200 only as they have lost hope of getting good prices and hence are planning to sow another crop in their fields.”
“I was happy with the move of demonetisation but it has affected my own crop,” he said.
However, in retail market, cauliflower is available for Rs 20-30 a kg, carrot for Rs 25-30 a kg. Potatos are available at Rs 25-30 a kg.
“It is difficult to go to the wholesale market to buy vegetables. So we have no choice but to purchase from the vendor at his prices. Moreover, we are buying just half a kg instead of usual one kg because of cash crunch,” said Kiranjeet Kaur, a housewife from New Model town.
Manjeet Kaur, another homemaker, said, “I am buying vegetables on credit from my vendor and I pay him after 2-3 days. I have not done this before, but I have no choice. It will take time for the notes of smaller denomination to get circulated in market.”
Harjinder Singh, a vegetable vendor who sells saag, methi and mooli everyday in Pakhowal road area, however, said, “People are giving me cash and my work is going on. Most of them are buying in the range of Rs 50-60. So I am not facing much problem.”
Rasheed, however, said, “We are following a wait-and-watch policy and are hoping that cash will flow in market in the coming few days. Till then, we have to bear losses.”