Farmer protests at Delhi’s borders began to have a ripple effect on Azadpur Mandi, the city’s largest, Saturday as arrival of fresh fruits and vegetables saw a dip.
With border curbs in place and fewer trucks entering Delhi, traders cautioned that if the situation were to continue, prices of fruits and vegetables could go up.
With a two-day-old stock of Kashmiri apples, Sahil Ali (20) said: “Since apples come from Kashmir via Haryana, we have not been getting new stock for the past two days.” He explained that as the product gets older, his profit margin reduces. After selling 5 kg of apples at noon, he said, “On days like these, we are not trying to make profits. We are just trying to sell whatever we have.”
Though trucks carrying food items were allowed into Delhi, some were wary of the journey fearing blockades or traffic snarls. Rahul (27), a truck driver, said, “We transport onions from Alwar to Delhi and come via the Kapashera border. Our journey normally takes 1 hour at night but for the last two days, we have been getting stuck for 4-5 hours.” Another truck driver said that drivers are apprehensive of being stopped at the border for long, which could risk the stock rotting.
On Friday and Saturday, the mandi recorded slightly fewer arrivals. According to Azadpur Agriculture Produce Market Committee data, 8,983 tonnes of fruits and vegetables entered the mandi Friday, while on Saturday, it recorded 8,542 tonnes. Earlier in the week, the mandi saw over 11,000 tonnes of fruits and vegetables every day.
Among vegetables, sellers worried most about potato supply. Vishal Bhagat (21), a vendor, said, “What we are selling now is from our old stock since fresh stock hasn’t arrived. We do not know if they are stuck at the border or if supply is short because of the protests. The potatoes come from Punjab.”
The average daily quantity of potatoes received in the last four days was 1,263 tonnes, while on Saturday, 783.5 tonnes arrived.
The arrival of fruit and vegetable sellers from NCR who visit the mandi to make purchases also appeared to have slowed down. With 75 bags of cauliflower, each with 25-30 kg, Ravinder Sharma (42) waited for buyers. He said, “Individuals and shopkeepers from other markets buy products from us. I do not know if it is because of a rise in Covid cases or the situation at the border, but nobody has been buying in the last two-three days.” Similarly, Sheikh Arman, 25, who sells imported dates, said, “We depend on other sellers to buy from us. When people are not coming to buy potatoes and onions, who will come to buy dry fruits? The problem will only be solved if the farmers’ demands are heard.”
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