Vegetable prices in Chennai have skyrocketed following the incessant rains across the state over the last four days. Traders and vendors attribute the spike to high demand and low supply due to damage of crops, and delays in transportation.
Tomatoes, for instance, were retailing at Rs 125/kg on Wednesday, up from Rs 100/ kg a day before. At wholesale markets, where tomatoes are sold at Rs 35-40/kg, it is now Rs 60-80/kg.
S Chandran, president of Koyambedu Vegetable Wholesale Merchants Association, told IndianExpress.com, “At the Koyembedu wholesale market, 50 per cent of vegetables comes from Karnataka, 25 per cent from Tamil Nadu and 25 per cent from Andhra Pradesh. Since it is raining heavily in Tamil Nadu and other states, the supply is low.”
Chandran said there was a fall in supply due to damage caused to crops across Tamil Nadu due to the heavy rains.
On an average day, Chandran said, close to 400-450 trucks arrive at Koyembedu with produce. However, due to the inclement weather, only 300 trucks are currently reaching the market.
Tomatoes and drumsticks are some of the higher priced vegetables today, selling at Rs 125 and Rs 100, respectively, in parts of the city. Lady’s finger is at Rs 150/ kg, while carrots and beans are around Rs 120/ kg.
Shanthi, a Mylapore-based vegetable vendor, said she is making a loss due to the hike in vegetable prices. “It is not that we hike the prices ourselves. Due to the price hike at the wholesale market, we also run at a loss or make a profit of only Rs 10 now.”
“Since the crops are damaged and supply is less, of the few vegetables we get, most are either spoilt or rotten. The produce is not of the same quality we used to get. So, we try to make business with the ones we have and we barely make any profit,” he added.
Besant Nagar vendor Muthu said there was not a delay in the arrival of vegetables at Koyembedu. “We leave early in the morning and reach Koyembedu at around 4 am, but the trucks take longer than usual to arrive due to the rain.”
Chandran admitted that while on normal days, it takes around six hours for the trucks to reach, during the rainy season, it takes close to eight hours.
“The load doesn’t come on time due to the rain delay and waterlogging. It also gets hard for us to go and get the vegetables when the market is waterlogged,” Muthu said.
Divya, a resident of Besant Nagar, said, “The prices of vegetables are too high, especially essentials like tomatoes and onions. First, the price increased, and so did the price of petrol. Now, it has increased more because of the rain. I had to think twice before purchasing the quantity that I required due to the price hike. If the price goes on increasing, it will become hard to manage.”
Chandran said the price hike will remain for another 2-3 days until the rain subsides. He said the prices of vegetables may come back to normal by next week.