Skyrocketing Vegetable, Fruit Prices Hit Guwahati Consumers Leaving Markets Gloomy
Vegetable and fruit prices in Guwahati have risen in the past few months and with this increase in prices, customers are facing a lot of problems in purchasing fruits and vegetables.
The rise in prices of almost all the basic commodities has become a regular feature. A majority of the vegetables are priced at Rs 60 to Rs 90 per kg even as onions and potatoes remain extremely expensive. Rising prices for fresh fruits and vegetables in the last several weeks have put consumers in a fix over what is really reasonable for them.
"You need to think twice before visiting the market place," said Ranjan Basumatary, a customer in the Lakhtokia market of Guwahati, while talking to G Plus. Middle-class households, which are already under pressure from salary cuts, job losses, and suffering businesses due to the pandemic, are now struggling to their make ends meet with the vegetable prices burning a hole in their pockets.
Effect of the price rise on sellers and buyers
"Covid-19 has affected us a lot which is the reason I have to keep the prices high to make the ends meet," said Sonam Boro, one of the vegetable vendors at Ulubari market, rather resentfully to G Plus. Coronavirus had an adverse impact on the market which led to huge losses. The lives of people have been affected with the increase in unemployment due to the pandemic.
Interacting further with fruit vendors it came to light that despite the relief from the prolonged lockdowns the market scenario hasn't changed much. A fruit vendor, Binoy Ghosh added, "Like the vegetable sellers, it’s very difficult for us also to cope up with the increasing rates. On some days, I have to throw away the remaining fruits to avoid losses." Binoy has been vending from the Ulubari market over the last 15 years and he claims this year to be the worst. A study of the market brings to the conclusion that in these few months people have become more cautious regarding their purchases.
"The shortage of labour is also the main reason why I can't afford to sell at lower prices. I have to pay heavy travel fares which eat into my son’s education funds," said Runjun Pegu, a vegetable vendor, as she expressed her grief. It has been said by most of the shopkeepers and vendors that the sales have dampened since the COVID-19 spread. Many have cut their stocks that they earlier used to have as the demands are less compared to the previous years.
Street vendors have always been a part of the city’s informal economy. Kachari Ghat market, one of the oldest markets of Guwahati, was run by vendors, small traders and farmers who came with food grains, vegetables and poultry items on bullock carts and boats. Indigenous women vendors, mainly from the Garo community, came with hill produce and indigenous vegetables to the Kachari Basti market in Ulubari. Most of the vendors who came to vend in Kachari Basti and Kachari Ghat did not live in the city. They came to the markets with their produce, and after their sale went back to their villages.
"Starving is better. The prices are horrifying. The pandemic hasn't ended, there's no money. The government hasn't done anything and because of it, we the people are suffering. The government should do something about it. This has been the highest rise in prices that I have felt this year,” said Sribas Dhar, a resident of Rehabari.
A gloomy market scenario
"The market isn't hampered by COVID-19. There's also no scarcity of goods and essentials but prices are high because the control has been dictated by central government and some of the commodities have also been excluded as a part of the Essentials and Commodities Act. Since this is a free market, the prices are as per demand and supply in the market,” said the director of food and civil supplies, Manash Nath speaking to G Plus. "Imposition of rules and regulation are being eased out so the market is taking its own pace. The buying and selling will gradually pick up after the vaccine finally comes out,” he further added.
The retailers who sell vegetables and fruits have fewer struggles compared to the farmers. "For too long, the tale of Indian agriculture has been a story of marketplace misrepresentation. Farmers are left to the destiny of traders and investors who, on the whole, are seeking to reduce their buying costs to maximize their own gains," said a farmer turned cooperative owner while speaking to G Plus. According to a report published by the National Sample Survey Office (NSSO), a whopping 70 percent of the country’s population is known to be dependent on agriculture. This is also the core reason that people are dependent on the vegetable market more.
The conclusion can be reached that given the present condition the increase in the prices has affected both the buyers and sellers equally adversely.
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- Fruit prices Guwahati