TIRUPATI: Soaring vegetable prices have delivered a double whammy to the denizens of Tirupati, already brought to their knees by the torrential rains and the subsequent floods. Tomatoes, which cost Rs 30-35 a kg till a few days ago, were now selling for Rs 100-130. The savage rains had affected its cultivation, and the shortfall of the vegetable has pushed up its price. Carrots were being sold at Rs 110 per kilo, cluster beans at Rs 80, cabbage at Rs 60 kg, bitter gourd and capsicum at Rs 80 per kilo, and brinjal at Rs 80 per kilo. Onions, too, posted a price hike, selling at Rs 60-80 per one kilo.
“We are not getting enough vegetables from various markets due to the rains. People are also been preferring smaller quantities of vegetables,” said S Pushpalatha, a vendor from Indira Priyadarshini vegetable market. Chittoor district, dependant on markets in Tamil Nadu’s Koyambedu for its vegetables, has not been getting enough vegetables. The district used to get more than 950 tonnes of various vegetables earlier.
Besides wrecking havoc in the district, the rains have also affected the crops in Tamil Nadu. Another vendor K Lakshmi held the rain-damaged roads, too, responsible for the price hike.Though the rains have spared Vijayawada and Visakhapatnam, the vegetable prices soared in both wholesale and retail markets in the two cities. Most vegetables were priced above Rs 50 a kg in retail stores in Vijayawada. Tomatoes were sold at Rs 74, the season’s highest at the Kedareswarapeta Rythu Bazaar on Wednesday. At Kaleswara Rao market, the vegetable retailed for Rs 70 to 90 a kilo.
G Saritha, a homemaker pointed out that other than tomatoes, the prices of okra, ivy gourd and brinjal have gone up. “Okra, which was Rs 24 per kg earlier this month, is now being sold for Rs 44. Same is the case with ivy gourd, which shot up to Rs 44 from Rs 24. If the situation continues, several households will be forced to cut down their vegetable intake,’’ she averred.
N Veera Babu, a vendor said that tomatoes used to arrive from Bengaluru. “The rains in Karnataka affected the cultivation. Tomatoes, priced Rs 38 a kilo earlier this month, is now being sold for Rs 74 now. Uncertainty over fuel prices in the country pushed up transportation costs,” he explained.
Besides heavy rains, traders from neighbouring states purchasing vegetables at a higher rate also contributed to the price hike, said Uday Murthy, Estate Officer of Kedareswarapeta Rythu Bazaar. “A couple of days ago, the government procured 10 metric tonnes of tomatoes from Anantapur to supply to the consumers. The marketing department is exploring all possibilities to procure tomatoes from Madanapalle and other places,’’ he said.
Estate officers have been asked to submit a list of required vegetables In Vizag, tomatoes were selling in the open market for almost Rs 120. “Usually I buy a kilo or two of tomatoes but now I hardly take half a kilo or 250 grams because they are priced so high,” said Krishnaveni, a customer at a Rythu Bazaar. She explained that smaller tomatoes, which people normally do not prefer, were being sold at Rs 70 per kilo.
A tomato vendor at Seethammadhara Rythu Bazaar, B Bhavani, said she was now getting only half the quantity of the required tomatoes. “It might take at least a month or more for the prices to come down to normal,” he opined
(With inputs from Sistla Dakshina Murthy from Vijayawada and Amrutha Kosuru from Vizag)