APMC says certain section with vested interests out to make fast buck.
Mumbai: The city could suffer a shortage of green vegetables and other essential commodities like milk, fruits and meat from Friday if the farmers’ strike, which started off on Thursday, June 1 does not get resolved soon. According to wholesale and retail dealers of the commodities in the city, severe climatic conditions are causing vegetables and fruits that normally last up to two-three days to rot. As a result, stocks that they anticipated would tide them over the strike period will see a shortage, causing prices to spiral.
However, APMC officials dismissed claims of a shortage and said some vested interests wanting to make a fast buck are creating an atmosphere of panic. Meanwhile, striking farmers resorted to vandalising vehicles carrying milk and vegetables in some parts of the state and tried to stop them from reaching the markets.
According to former APMC deputy secretary Vitthal Rathod, the situation created in the wake of the strike would have a multifaceted impact on the market. If the government does not satisfy the farmers’ demands, the situation could worsen due to shortage of commodities as well as the vandalism that agitating farmers could resort to, to deter produce from reaching the market, he said.
Wholesale and retail vegetable and fruit sellers across city markets said that some fruits and vegetables can last for three to four days, and these would be available even if produce with a long shelf life see a shortfall. Barma Chaudhary, a Byculla-based fruit distributor, said as 70 per cent of the fruit in the city comes from other parts of the country, chances of shortage are low; however, agitating farmers obstructing entry of vehicles could change matters.
Vegetable market biggies from Meena Market at Dadar said that there was no shortage on Thursday as vegetables had arrived in the early hours. However, it is to be seen on Friday whether or not trucks carrying produce reach the market. “Most of the traders stocked up on vegetables on Thursday in anticipation of shortfall from Friday. However, there is no guarantee of them remaining fresh till Friday due to the intense heat,” said Laxman Chavan, a wholesaler.
A vegetable stockist from Dadar, Anil Gupta, said he had stocks to last up to Sunday provided the temperature decreases. “My stock of tomatoes will start rotting if the temperature does not come down; however I am not worried about the onions and potatoes as they can last up to a fortnight,” he said.
Former Navi Mumbai APMC director Sanjay Pansare has rubbished the claims of the traders and claimed a section of the business community was attempting to escalate prices. “Vegetables and fruits are still making their way to the market. The excuse of severe heat damaging stocks is to justify the price increase,” he alleged.
Wholesale and retail dealers of poultry and meat said they are yet to hear from the controlling bodies about refraining from slaughtering goats and chicken. Javed Shaikh, officiating member of the Meat Sellers Association in Deonar, on Thursday said, "Our local business remains unaffected due to the strike. However, we are affected by the taxes levied on us by the government as a result ofwhich our export business is suffering."
Crawford and Byculla Market
The fruit market at Byculla and Crawford Market remained unaffected by the strike. "There is no shortage whatsoever of fruits as they have a longer shelf life hence the question of prices spiralling does not arise. The same cannot be said about fruits with short shelf life," said Azad Ali, a trader from Crawford Market.
Meena Market, Dadar
The green vegetable market at Dadar was thriving on Thursday. The traders, however, said they did not stock up on produce with short shelf life. Ranjeet Kumar Vais, a trader, said, "We won't be getting supplies from Nashik, and hence stocked up on gourds and brinjals for a couple of days. From Friday the prices will be controlled by demand and supply."
"We can sustain business for another two-three days even if supplies don't come. Currently rates have barely risen, but if supplies don't come, rates will be dictated by the ones that have stocks," said Anil Gupta, trader and wholesaler of general vegetables, sprouts and root veggies.
Navi Mumbai APMC
Business was booming on Thursday as lots of trucks arrived with produce in the early hours. Due to the strike announcement, traders bought extra stock. However the prices did not escalate.