Tomato is sold at Rs 70-80 a kg, carrot at Rs 80 a kg and bean at Rs 100 a kg
By our Staff Reporter
GUWAHATI, July 28: Meddling middlemen are out and doing the mischief by holding the key of vegetable market, making consumers pay through their noses. Thanks to inept handling of pricing by the powers that be at Dispur.
Vegetable prices in Guwahati before the recent wave of floods in the State and after it show a gulf of difference, so also between wholesale and retail prices. The price of every vegetable item has gone up. The poor find it tough to get two square meals a day, that too, only vegetable dish.
A middleman is a ‘go-between person’ who procures vegetable items from wholesalers and supplies them to retailers. When such middlemen are unscrupulous, ones who suffer the worst are consumers. The successive governments at Dispur continue to fail to end the mece of go-between. Middlemen make retailers run their shops even on credit, but they never compromise on their unscrupulous price lines.
Vegetable prices in the major markets in Guwahati speak volumes of the gravity of the situation. The lowest is of potato that is sold at Rs 20 a kg in most of the major markets in the city. Onion is sold at Rs 25 a kg, brinjal at Rs 30-40 a kg, potol at Rs 30-40 a kg, cabbage at Rs 30 a kg, tomato at Rs 60-70 a kg, carrot at Rs 80 a kg, bean at Rs 80-100 a kg, arum at Rs 30 a kg, squash at Rs 25-30 a kg, papaya at Rs 20-30 a kg, yellow pumpkin at Rs 20-30 a kg, radish at Rs 30 a kg, chillies at Rs 80 a kg, long bean (lesera) at Rs 40 a kg, garlic at Rs 70 a kg, ginger at Rs 30 a kg, kumura (small pumpkin) at Rs 20-25 per piece, ba flower (kol deal) at Rs 25-30 a piece, etc.
Go-between people are of two types who are active in Guwahati. A section of middlemen procures vegetables directly from wholesalers, mainly from Kharupetia and Barpeta, and sells them to retailers in Guwahati at high prices. There is another section of middlemen who procures vegetables from wholesalers at Pamohi in Guwahati and sells them to retailers at higher prices. Poor retailers who face cash crunch can get vegetables on credit from middlemen. However, in that case they have to procure vegetables at higher prices. In this process, the worst affected ones are the con
Assam itself can be considered as the eighth wonder in the world. It is the place where tomato is sold at Rs 60-70 a kg now. Can tomato growers forget that they have to throw tomato away in various markets in the State for not being able to sell them? Tomato being highly perishable, its growers from Barpeta who take the produce on hired vehicles cannot take them back in the event of the produce not being sold. For they have to hire a vehicle again to take the commodity back to Barpeta. The helpless growers find no way out but to sell the commodity at throwaway prices or throw them away. In such situations, the go-between people mint money in the State. The farmers are often denied the promised minimum support prices (MSP) by the government. This year potato growers had to throw their produce to the gutter for not being able to sell the community.
This is one of the numerous situations in which a farmer needs government help. Dispur could have helped such poor farmers by making available cold-storage facilities. Assam Agricultural Marketing Board, according to sources, has three cold storage facilities – one each at Singimari, Gossaigaon and Jorhat – with a total capacity of 2,000 MT. All the three cold-storage facilities have been given on lease to private parties.