Nagpur: Uttam Bhalekar moves around in the lanes of Bharat Nagar, vending vegetables in his e-rickshaw during morning and evening. Bhalekar, who buys vegetables worth Rs3000-4000 from the wholesaler everyday, may not be able to recover his expenses today.
Many other neighbourhood vendors like Bhalekar say they may have to throw away much of their stock as the local administration’s curbs on running shops beyond 1pm also include vegetable vendors. They need to work at least till the evening to completely sell their stock for the day, the vendors say.
“The entire stock cannot be sold during the morning round itself, and a number of vegetables do not last till the next day. If I am not able to come out in the evening, much of the stock may have to be thrown away,” says Bhalekar.
Vendors like him are now planning to cut down on purchases from wholesale markets to avoid any carry over. Another vendor Shankar Gupta says he would now buy just enough stock to last in the morning round.
This would have a cascading effect on farmers, who are already in losses due to curbs on weekly markets and the Saturday-Sunday closure that was in force before the weeklong lockdown, say wholesalers.
Traders at Kalamna say the rates of a number of vegetables have come down to half due to the curbs on weekly markets. The fresh restriction is expected to further impact the prices of the farmers’ produce.
Markets like the agriculture produce marketing yard at Kalamna and Cotton Market get supplies from nearby villages and the neighbouring Chhindwara district in Madhya Pradesh. Farmers bring the produce almost on a daily basis.
The president of Nagpur Sabji Market Yuva Adatiya Sangh, an association of vegetable traders at Kalamna, says rates have crashed after the government banned weekly markets. Traders pitching their shops at the weekly marts are the major buyers from the wholesalers. As they are not turning up, rates of vegetables across the board have halved, he explains.
“For example, tomato is now being sold at Rs3/kg, cauliflower and other greens are fetching not more than Rs1.5-2/kg. A number of other vegetables are not getting a rate more than Rs10/kg. This is half of the earlier levels,” says Gaur.
Milind Deosthale, also a trader at Kalamna, says the farmers are forced to sell the vegetables at throwaway prices at the wholesale markets. The vegetables are highly perishable and cannot be stored, so farmers have no choice but to sell at whatever rates they get, he adds.
There are exceptions, like Rakesh Mathankar in Ram Nagar. “I don’t think it will have any major impact. If things are streamlined, vendors can easily clear their stock till 1pm,” he says.