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A month after the withdrawal of high-denomination notes, agricultural remains one of the sectors hit hardest by demonetisation, as it grapples with major losses. While some farmers have incurred a loss as high as 60-70 per cent, rabi sowing has also taken a hit due to the cash crunch.
The business of fruits and vegetables — from the farmer’s field to the consumer’s table — has always been cash-intensive, with barely any use of alternative modes of payment.
As cash runs dry in rural areas, this business chain has all but collapsed, with little hope of a speedy revival. Shirram Gadve, president of the Vegetables Growers Association of India (VGAI), said the price of vegetables has dropped by almost 60 per cent across wholesale markets. “Whatever sale is happening right now, it is distress sale, and that’s causing major loss to the farmers,” he said.
Annually, the wholesale markets register trade of around Rs 1 lakh crore in the sale of fruits and vegetables. In fact, the months of November and December usually witness 10-12 per cent more consumption of vegetables than other months, due to easy availability and better prices.
“On an average, an acre worth of vegetables during this month fetches us Rs 1 lakh, but this year we have received only Rs 30,000 for that… it’s such a loss,” said Gadve. The onion trade also had seen losses, according to trade analysts, of around Rs 50 crore, as cash transactions have all but stopped. The poultry industry has also registered losses worth Rs 100 crore in Maharashtra.