Written by Sameer Manekar
Despite nearly half the state facing severe drought — 180 talukas in 12 districts — prices of vegetables and fruits at Pune’s wholesale market have remained unchanged, even dipped, over last month, with 50 per cent of supplies arriving from other states.
Stocks of vegetables are arriving from a host of states — carrots from Rajasthan; green chilly from Gujarat, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka; cabbage from Karnataka and Gujarat; ginger from Karnataka and green peas from Madhya Pradesh, among other vegetables — keeping the prices from shooting up as the state reels under drought.
According to the Agriculture Produce Market Committee (APMC)’s website, since October, the price of onion in Pune has halved, from Rs 8 per kg to Rs 4 per kg, while that of potato has dipped from Rs 14 per kg to Rs 8 per kg. Vegetables like ladyfinger, cauliflower, cabbage and cluster beans have also seen a dip in prices.
Prices of green peas too have dipped by 50 per cent, from Rs 60 per kg to Rs 30 per kg.
“We haven’t seen any significant decrease in supplies of vegetables over last month,” said Vilas Bhujbal, president of the Commission Agents Association of Pune Market Yard.
“This could also be attributed to the drip irrigation system installed at drought-prone locations by the government. Because of this, crops requiring less water, like leafy vegetables, are not affected.”
On onions, Bhujbal said that late arrival of the kharif produce in the market had acted as a blessing. “Anticipating high prices, a lot of farmers had stocked their produce. But with no change in prices and stored onions getting damaged, low-quality onion is entering the market, pushing down prices.”
He added that after the rabi season in February, stocks will deplete further as drought-affected rabi produce will arrive in the market and chances of prices shooting up were high.
Rohan Ursal, secretary of the association, said that he was confident about the supply of oranges, mangoes, sweet lime and grapes. “We have no reasons to worry about the supply of these fruits till February. We will see the effect of drought after January-February. We may see a lot of shortage during that period because of water scarcity. Fruits that grow in Maharashtra, like oranges, sweet lime, grapes, figs and guava, all these will be affected in the new crop season due to water scarcity.”
While supply of mangoes, apples, pomegranates and pineapples from other states will keep prices stable, homegrown fruits are expected to get 50 per cent dearer than last year, said Ursal.