Updated: August 9, 2020 2:29:27 pm
Vegetable prices have skyrocketed following the enforcement of biweekly lockdown to contain the spread of Covid-19 in West Bengal.
According to vegetable vendors, extended lockdown, low demand, increase in transport cost have led to price rise, and it is not likely to plummet anytime soon. Items in retail markets have become costlier by 30 to 40 per cent.
While green chillies are available at a price of Rs 220-290 per kg, the cost of other vegetables, including brinjal, pointed gourd, ginger, bitter gourd and pumpkin, are above Rs 80.
The soaring prices are burning a hole in people’s pockets. Mala Das, a domestic help, said: “The vegetable prices are so high that it is difficult to afford them. I am unable to feed my pregnant daughter-in-law properly. Most people are reluctant to call us for work due to Covid-19. My income has halved. We hardly eat vegetables these days.”
According to vendors, another factor behind this spike is that vegetables usually perish faster during rainy season.
Tarak Das, President of Shyambazar Market Common Traders’ Association, said: “Sales have dropped. As a result, most of the harvest is still in stock in bulk quantity.”
Das said earlier vendors used to sell less fresh vegetables to road side hoteliers. But now even those eateries were shut.
“At Shyambazar market, at least five to seven people have stopped selling vegetables. The situation is tough for us. Lockdown is enforced on almost every alternate day. It is a challenge to keep vegetables fresh during rainy season,” added Das.
Potato prices have also gone up despite surplus as the supply chain has been hit following enforcement of lockdown. Bengal sends surplus potatoes to other states, including Orissa, Andhra Pradesh, Assam and Jharkhand.
“Due to the pandemic and subsequent lockdown, potatoes are still in stock. Bengal consumes 60 per cent of the total quantity of potatoes produced, and the rest is sold to other states. There is no major restriction on inter-state movement of essential items, so, the supply of potatoes to other state wasn’t affected. However, within the state, as transport system has taken a hit due to extended lockdown, so the local supply chain has been disrupted. This has a ripple effect on potato prices,” said Sagar Sarkar President of Pashim Banga Prabartisheel Aloo Vyavsayi Samiti.
Keeping the pandemic in mind, the state agriculture marketing department has set up more Sufal Bangla outlets across the state.
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