Palayam: The recent increase in prices have severely affected the sale of vegetable and spending habits of customers at Palayalm vegetable market here in Kozhikode. The situation is the same across the state.
“We used to have around 10 loads for some of these vegetables but now we barely receive 5,” said Mustafa secretary of footpath vendors association in Palayam market.
“One of the main reasons for increase in vegetable prices is the effect of drought on various crops. Due to lack of water, a large number of crops died. This resulted in lesser quantities being available and prices shot up,” explained Mustafa. He also mentioned that their main supply of vegetables came from Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. They either got the vegetables from farmers, by paying them in advance or bought them from the markets there.
Some vegetables that saw a significant rise in prices were beans, bitter gourd, carrot and tomatoes.
“There is a huge decline in the number of people that come here now because of the increase in prices and the heat outside. We have a lot of stock that gets spoilt due to the heat. We barely earn a profit these days, sometimes they’re sold at the same price we get them for. It’s become really difficult,” said Ahmad Ashraf a coriander leaf seller in the market.
“Previously, in Kozhikode, all the vegetables came here (Palayam market) and then they were distributed to the other markets. But now with the rise of more and more supermarkets, a lot of the supplies are being delivered straight to them and it has taken a toll on our sales,” said Mustafa.
The vendors at Palayam didn’t expect such a massive growth in supermarket chains, which has become a major obstacle to their sales. Some vendors in Palayam market even expressed their concern over how they have lost over two-thirds of their customers.
“Supermarkets also message people now, updating them about the new stock and offers. Customers don’t have to bear the heat or deal with the rain when inside supermarkets, like they do here. Supermarkets have better parking and other facilities as well. So, naturally, a lot of customers prefer going to them over coming here,” added Mustafa.
He also expressed concerns over how supermarkets tend to sell vegetables at prices lower than the actual market price, which makes it harder for the vendors to sell their stock.
Mustafa also pointed out how customers who previously bought 1 kg, only buy 250 or 500 grams of the same items now.
“The price hikes have definitely affected the amount of vegetables we purchase. It’s become too expensive for us to buy in the same quantities we used to. So, we have to cut down,” said Lasitha, a nurse.
“These prices have caused me to exceed my usual monthly budget, not by a lot but it’s still a problem,” commented K Chandran, a Kozhikode based businessman. He also said “The prices have gone up but the quality of some of these vegetables have come down. If Tamil Nadu doesn’t have vegetables, Kerala doesn’t have vegetables,” he added.
The drought and extreme rise in temperatures are causing all sorts of troubles for farmers and their crops, resulting in lesser quantity of vegetables being sold at really high prices. The concerned vendors and customers hope that this problem will be solved once the monsoon season begins. Better availability of water and comparatively cooler temperatures would help grow better and more crops, hopefully bringing down the prices once again.