High vegetables prices may further push retail inflation

New Delhi: Poor monsoon continues to put pressure on prices of staple vegetables, including tomato and potato, and could further push up retail inflation which is hovering above the double-digit mark.

Rates of key veggies are yet to show signs of coming down compared to mid-July due to supply constraint as a result of deficient rainfall across the country.

According to IMD, the country has witnessed 19 per cent rain deficiency during the season so far. It says that monsoon is expected to bring widespread showers in August but is likely to run into trouble in September (the terminal part of monsoon).

Potato which was selling at a high of Rs 20 a kg in retail in Delhi around middle of July is still ruling at the same price in and around the national capital.

Similarly, tomato which was at Rs 40 a kg then has further soared to Rs 50 a kg in Delhi and NCR, traders said.

Onion which was available at a reasonable price of Rs 10-15 a kg around July 15 has risen to Rs 20-25/kg now in Delhi and NCR.

Likewise, prices of important vegetables continue to remain on the higher side in other metros of Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai too.

Data provided by National Horticulture Research Development Foundation (NHRDF), an arm of ICAR which monitors vegetable items like onion, potato and garlic, indicate their high costs.

R P Gupta, Director NHRDF, told PTI that deficient monsoon in June has brought down production of potato in kharif season by more than half in Karnataka, a key producer of the crop.

As per NHRDF data, potato which was selling at Rs 13.50 a kg in the wholesale market in Ahmedabad on August 1 has come down a little but continue to rule at Rs 11.50 a kg on August 4.

Similarly, potato sold at Rs 16 a kg in Bangalore yesterday, the same price it fetched on August 1. But, in Chennai, its price has gone up to Rs 20 a kg on August 4 against Rs 18 a kg on August 1. In Mumbai, the vegetable was sold at Rs 15 a kg on August 4 as compared to Rs 14/kg on August 1.

Former Deputy Director General (Horticulture) of ICAR H P Singh said production of vegetables have fallen by around 20-25 per cent due to weak monsoon.

However, Rajendra Sharma, General Secretary of vegetable merchants association at Azadpur, Asia`s biggest fruits & vegetables wholesale market, said prices of most of the veggies have started sliding slowly.

Subhash Chuk, General Secretary of Azadpur-based Tomato Merchants Association, said arrival of the vegetable has increased to 30 trucks (each truck carrying 9 tonnes of tomato) now against 15 trucks a fortnight back.