50% to 300% rise in vegetable prices in Mangalore

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MANGALORE: The Wholesale Price Index (WPI) may be down to its lowest levels since November 2009, but the Consumer Price Index (CPI) has hit a new high here.

Take the case of beans – they are sold in retail at Rs 100 to Rs 120 per kg. They were sold at Rs 40 a kg just 40 days back. Though beans are available at Rs 80 at Hopcoms outlets, they are not tender.

Not only beans, the prices of almost all vegetables have seen a sharp rise of 50% to 300%. While the price of carrot has doubled from Rs 25 a kg to Rs 50, green chilli too has doubled from Rs 20 a kg to Rs 40. Cauliflower which was sold at Rs 20 a kg last month, is now sold at Rs 45. The price of ginger has seen a big jump-from Rs 40 to 150.

For a home maker like Shankari P, it’s a difficult situation. Her husband cannot make it without beans. “I buy a quarter kilogram, which if used judiciously, can suffice me for a week,” she says. Farita Veigas, who bought half a kilo, said she got a shock when she saw the bill. “I buy beans for the dietary fibre and they are good for health. May be, next time I will decided my purchase quantity after price inquiry,” she said. This theory holds good for other unavoidable culinary ingredients like lady’s fingers, green chillies, tomato, fresh ginger rhizome, homemakers said.

Vegetable merchants here attribute the sharp price rise to the start of wedding season, plus short supply from Malnad areas from where this region gets majority of its vegetable stock.

Central market vegetable merchant David D’Souza says: “As we don’t have much of local production, majority of the produce comes from Bangalore, Mysore and Hassan. Naturally, the prices here are more as transportation cost is added to it.”

Wholesale merchant Basavaraj from Mysore says: “Beans crop production is not even 10% of last year. We used to get five to six tonnes daily at RMC Yard. This year we are getting less than a tonne per day.”

Mysore chiefly gets beans from Pandavapura in Mandya district. While Mysore wholesale prices are Rs 45 per kg, they retail at Rs 60. Though beans have not disappeared completely from the hotel menu, one may even find string beans instead of beans in items like fried rice and pulaos. “We cannot do away with beans completely in some items. Hence we grin and bear,” said a restaurateur.

DK Hotel Owners Association president Kudpi Jagadeesh Shenoy says: “We had increased the menu rates just a month back and there is no scope for further increase just because vegetable prices have increased. Where beans can be substituted, we use string beans, but they too don’t come cheap – they are Rs 60 a kg.”

Ramesh from a catering firm says: “It’s a difficult time since we have pre-booked orders and we do not increase rates in the middle. But Ramesh sees hope saying that as wedding season ends June 2, the prices should come down as demand slows down for vegetables.”

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