KOCHI: Cashing in on the huge demand ahead of Vishu, the prices of essential items, including vegetables, have gone up sharply. And, for wholesale vendors, festivals are just a ruse to increase the price of essential items. If it was meat and fish during Easter, it is vegetables and other essential items that is turning costlier this season.
With the implementation of GST, the price of fruits and vegetables, which feature prominently in Vishu Kani, has increased.“The price of apples per kilogram has gone up from Rs 150 to Rs 170 and grapes from Rs 70 to Rs 90,” says Rahman, a shopkeeper in Ernakulam market. An increase has been recorded in the price of vegetables too. “The price of (Kani Vellari) Indian cucumber had gone up from Rs 28 to Rs 36. Snake gourd and pumpkin are now commanding rates like Rs 48 and Rs 20, respectively, a kg,” says Riyas, another shopkeeper in Ernakulam market.
The rise in price has dealt a big blow to the sales and the vendors are a worried lot. “The price hike has affected the sale of products in the market,” Rahman adds. The shopkeepers hope things will improve in days before Vishu.
The office-bearers of Vegetables and Fruits Promotion Council, Kerala (VFPCK), said the prices in the wholesale market are almost steady. The increase in price, according to them, is the usual practice by retailers to tap extra revenue during the festive season.
“The demand for Kani Vellari (Indian Cucumber), is likely to go up because of the expected increase in its demand during Vishu. Likewise, the price of Nendran banana too has seen a surge. The rest of the vegetables are maintaining a steady price,” said VFPCK district manager Manjusha S.She said that VFPCK will set up vegetable stalls in eight villages this Vishu. These places include Puthenvelikkara, Nedumbassery, Ayyampuzha, Malayattoor, Nedungapra, Pothanikkad, Vazhakkulam and Kadungallur. Paravur is the only municipal region where the agency will set up vegetable stalls this year.
“Because of the dry spell, the quantity of produce is less this year. However, we have an excess of cucumber and snake gourd to supply to other districts too. Meanwhile, the production of small banana varieties including poovan is less this year,” she added.
CPM ‘s Vishu market
The Vishu vegetable fair, conducted by CPM, was launched in the district the other day. The harvest festival in connection with the campaign “Poison Free Vegetables for Vishu” was launched at Veliyampaadam, Murikkalu in Muvattupuzha by Speaker P Sreeramakrishnan. This year, the party has cultivated vegetables at nearly 3.5 acres of land. The fields which were lying vacant for years were made ready for cultivating vegetables by the CPM workers.
The workers resorted to traditional methods of farming and ensured that the cultivation was carried out in an organic way. “Though the plan was to make the crops/vegetables ready by April second week, we were able to harvest it a week before the deadline. We have already harvested vegetables to the tune of one-and-a-half tonne,” said P Rajeev, CPM district secretary.
Cowpea, ladyfinger, tomato, brinjal, pumpkin, cucumber, snake gourd, bitter gourd, spinach, and cauliflower were the major items that were cultivated by CPM. On an experimental basis, shallots, coriander, corn and watermelon were also planted.