FRIDAY SAW a surge in buying at the three wholesale markets in Vashi Agriculture Produce Market Committee (APMC), which will be shut down from April 11 till further notice as per the government’s order on Thursday. With the last of the trucks driving into the APMC wholesale markets for vegetables, fruits, onion and potatoes, many wholesalers brought the produce, with most of the market emptying out by noon.
The traders, however, said that the impact of them shutting down is not likely to lead to a surge in prices, as since the lockdown, a lot of the produce was being taken directly to Mumbai’s markets.
“To avoid overcrowding at the market and to ensure social distancing, already 300-odd vehicles were going directly into the various markets in the city and from there to retail shops. At the APMC, 100 to 125 trucks were unloading. This will be stopped till at least April 14, by which if the number of COVID-19 cases are under control, a further decision is likely to be taken,” said Anil Chavan, secretary of the Vashi APMC.
Markets selling rice, wheat, pulses, are currently open.
On Friday, 347 trucks and tempos delivering vegetables and fruits entered the APMC until 2 pm, while 832 left for various markets in the city to sell the produce. The figure was higher than that of Thursday.
The Vashi APMC, which is the main wholesale market for Mumbai and its suburbs, caters to smaller markets across the city as well as to retailers, caterers and the hotel industry.
“Those who coordinate with the farmers to ensure supply of vegetables and fruits from across the state and other parts of the country, have been informed about the three markets being shut. On Friday, most managed to sell what was already delivered,” said Arjun Nisan, one of the wholesalers at the market. He added that the demand has seen a slump since the lockdown due to hotels and most other establishments remaining shut as well as restrictions on travel.
Since the lockdown, measures like sanitation facility for trucks entering the market as well as for loaders and drivers have been made. The APMC secretary said that while measures to avoid the outbreak were immediately taken, keeping the markets shut as a precaution was a better solution for now as due to the crowd, ensuring social distancing was not possible at all times. The owner of a spice shop in the market had this week tested positive for COVID-19. He had, however, not been to the market since March 21.
The grain market selling pulses, rice, wheat, saw the usually flurry of activity on Friday, with no semblance of social distancing.
“We have been rotating between allowing loading of trucks bringing the produce on one day and keeping a day for wholesalers and retailers to buy. There is a need to ensure that dal, rice, which are essential supplies, reach the people. We will continue to remain open, taking precautions till we are given
directions otherwise,” said Alpesh Bhanushali, a trader at the market.
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