Despite winter, prices of veggies continue to soar
Gap between retail & wholesale price in Delhi highest in country

Consumers waiting for cooling down of vegetables prices with the onset of winter may have to wait longer. Prices of onion, tomato and potato, the most staple of all veggies, continue to rule high while others such as green peas are soaring without any respite.

As Delhi depends on supplies from other states, shortage of vegetables is being blamed for the surge in prices in the city.

While the retail price of tomato has gone up to Rs 60-70 per kg, green peas, which is a winter vegetable, is being sold at Rs 70 per kg and above. In some up market colonies, vendors are charging even Rs 100 a kg for green peas.

The average retail price of onion was ruling at Rs 15 per kg in April and gradually rose to Rs 35 a kg in July. By October-end, the rate had crossed Rs 50, as per ministry of consumer affairs data. However, local vendors are selling at Rs 65-70 per kg, depending on the quality and locality in Delhi. A similar rise in prices of onion was witnessed in other cities also.
The intermittent rise and fall in prices of vegetables has become a regular phenomenon in the city as the state government and Centre blame on apportion.

Delhi is heavily dependent on supply of vegetables from other states and any shortage in supply results in price hikes. The supply of tomatoes and onions is from Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Haryana.

“We have found that the gap between retail and wholesale price in Delhi is the highest in the country and it is the state government, which has to plan to reduce this,” a consumer ministry official said.

He also said that when pulses prices rose last year, a study was conducted that showed the gap between retail and wholesale price in Delhi at 38 per cent whereas in most other places it is within 10 per cent.

Asked about onion prices, he questioned the silence of the Delhi government while the need is to take pro-active steps. “Why can’t they build or hire some storage space in Nashik district (the largest growing district) and store onion when the produce is harvested,” he asked.

Rains have not only damaged the tomato crop, but has also affected transportation, according to AK Singh, deputy director (horticulture) with the ICAR.

Tomato is normally sold at Rs 20-30 a kg this time, while it is not selling below Rs 60 a kg in any place, said Neha Sharma, a resident of Noida.

She also complained that green peas have become out of reach, as prices are double at this point of time while it was about Rs 30-40 a kg last year.

Commission agents at Azadpur said supplies of green peas are less this year as there is information about increased demand from processors, who keep the commodity frozen for year-round sale.

Earlier, the Delhi government had constituted various teams of officers and directed them to submit a daily report on the prices of vegetables in the wholesale markets.

The possibility of these commodities being hoarded could not be ruled out, an official of the food and civil supplies department of Delhi government had said recently.

But the Centre has ordered import of onions through state trading firm MMTC. Last week, the government allowed agencies like MMTC to import onion from countries like Egypt and China to increase availability and cool retail prices.

Consumer affairs minister Ram Vilas Paswan on October 31 had termed the rise in onion and tomato prices as ‘seasonal factor’, and said that the situation would normalise in a week or so on improved supplies of fresh crops.