THE impact of the demonetisation of Rs 500 and Rs 1000 currency notes on wholesale vegetable and fruit sellers at the Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC) market in Vashi was immediate. Generally conducting their daily transactions with buyers and sellers in cash, wholesalers faced losses Wednesday as business dipped sharply.
Pradip Desai, a wholesale trader, said his loss for the day was nearly Rs 2,000. He, however, said he was willing to ignore the losses if there were long-term gains to be anticipated through a wipeout of black money. “It is all for the good if it will help curb black money menace. I might have to bear some losses for three to four days but it is nothing when compared to the good it will do to the country,” said Desai.
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He saw a 50 per cent reduction in his business Wednesday after not many retailers turned up at the market. Some who came had to be turned away as they had only the phased out currency notes to offer.
Like Desai, many wholesalers had to buy the day’s produce from the sellers on credit, promising to return once the banks began to exchange the old notes for new currency.
Ashok Gupta, another wholesaler, complained that he saw no business for over two hours in the morning as he refused to accept the big denomination notes. Fearing that his vegetables would perish, he began accepting the notes but saw a reduction in sales by 50 per cent.
Despite buying smaller quantities of vegetables and drastically reducing the prices, he found it hard to clear his stock. While he usually clears it by noon every day, he had around 30 per cent vegetables left to sell even at 1 pm.
Carrots that usually sell at Rs 20 per kilo were eventually sold at Rs 12 and cluster beans (gavar) was brought down to half the price from Rs 24 to Rs 12 per kilo.
The fruit sellers seemed to be in a better position.
Anuj Harchandani, a fruit seller in the market, also saw a 50 per cent fall in demand but was still accepting notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000. He said, “I have no black money to hide. So, I am accepting all the money and will later exchange it in the banks.”
Another fruit seller Irshad Sheikh, however, didn’t share the same thought. In the fear of standing in long queues at banks, he refused to accept the notes and hardly made any sales. Whatever little he did was through credit. He said he won’t be majorly affected as whatever fruits did not get sold would be preserved in the cold storage to be sold later.
Retailers across the city had different issues to face. While customers were unwilling to shell out their loose notes for vegetables, the retailers were hesitant to accept the big notes as many could not afford the time to stand in long queues in banks.
Anticipating poor sales due to this, they bought smaller quantities of vegetables from the market.
The vegetable shops at Pali village were selling on credit. “If people don’t have small change to pay us, we are allowing them to pay us later. A physically challenged person needed 2 kg onions but did not have Rs 100. Though we didn’t know him, we gave him the onions and asked him to pay later. We have to adjust in such circumstances,” said Sanjay Kehurakte from Manohar Vegetables.
However, not all were as accommodating. Humayun Seth, a retailer at Colaba market, said, “Giving it on lesser price will lead to more losses. I am accepting Rs 500 if they buy for that money. I’m not willing to give away the change that I have for nothing.”