Harsh Onam awaits Keralites as vegetable prices continue to soar

The unexpected price rise of vegetables has forced the hotel owners to increase the price of several menu items.

Published: 12th July 2023 06:58 AM  |   Last Updated: 12th July 2023 06:59 AM   |  A+A-

People buying vegetables from Chalai market in Thiruvananthapuram. (Photo | B P Deepu)

Express News Service

KOCHI: By all indications, this Onam sadya is going to be costly for households as the prices of tomatoes, yam, small onions, green chillies, and ginger continue to shoot up. Traders said they do not anticipate any cooling in prices before Onam due to rains in the growing areas of Mysore, Hosur, etc. The prices of many seasonal vegetables have risen twofold compared to previous years. 

According to the Vegetable and Fruit Promotion Council Keralam (VFPCK) officials, the prices of several vegetables, which are mainly procured from other states, will be higher than the current market price ahead of the Onam celebration. As per their finding, the tomatoes, which touched Rs 135 per kg on Tuesday, may go up to Rs 150 per kg as supply remains unpredictable. The expected tomato harvest from Palakkad farms will also be delayed by a few months, they said.

“Compared to previous years, the prices of a large number of vegetables are at an all-time high. Though we expected the harvest of tomatoes in Palakkad by August ahead of the Onam celebration, it got delayed. We can expect the harvest to begin in December. This will certainly create demand in the market. We will be forced to depend more on the other states for the vegetables,” said an official with VFPCK, requesting anonymity.

Tomato prices were only around Rs 50 per kg last year. Green chilli, which was sold at Rs 55 per kg, is now sold at Rs 85 per kg. The price of ginger has now risen to Rs 290 per kg. Yam, which was a major item for Onam, was available for Rs 35 per kg. On Tuesday, the prices shot past Rs 80 per kg. Fortunately for the households, the prices of big onions, carrots, drumsticks, and potatoes are steady, bringing them some relief.

The unexpected price rise of vegetables, meanwhile, has also forced the hotel owners to increase the price of several menu items.

“It is difficult to run a hotel business if the prices of vegetables remain at this level. We recently removed the tomato curry from our menu as it was difficult to serve at this rate. If the prices of vegetables remain the same, we will be forced to increase the price of meals,” said Sreenivasan J, a hotel owner at Anandas near Kaloor.

Mohammed Shafi, a wholesale vegetable dealer, said the price of seasonal vegetables may come down ahead of the Onam. “This is a usual phenomenon. The price of vegetables used to go up during the monsoon season. The heavy rains that were witnessed in Karnataka, especially in areas such as Hosur and Mysore, are the reason for the price rise. By August, the prices of all the vegetables, including the tomatoes, will cool down,” Shafi said.

When contacted, Agriculture Minister P Prasad said steps have already been taken to curb and regulate the prices of vegetables.

“Apart from starting the vegetable farming ahead of Onam, we are already in touch with vegetable producer organisations in other states to procure sufficient vegetables during the Onam celebration. The harvest of the locally produced vegetables will also start during the Onam season, which will help regulate the market price. We are making all efforts to make the state self-sufficient in vegetable cultivation. For this, we are procuring the vegetables from the farmers at a lower price than the market price,” the minister said.

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