New Delhi: Did you know that there is a 400% mark-up on vegetables in the last mile when it travels from the wholesale market — the mandi — to
The poor farmer gets a fraction of this. He gets just Rs 3 from dealers at the mandi, despite his toil and risks. These figures, obtained by TOI after going backward from the vendor to mandi to farmers, revealed another stunning fact — there is no shortage of food items in the wholesale market. As a matter of fact, rates have been dropping in the past one month.
Since October, prices of food items in the city had started stabilizing. The effect of the delayed monsoon was over and any shortage was being made up by local produce. But local vendors have been doubling their profits, claiming that supply from farms is affected. The government’s inaction has encouraged profiteering by retailers.
Tracking the vegetable supply chain to study the causes for soaring prices, a Times City team went to Palla village on the banks of the Yamuna. Village pradhan Tek Chand said farmers in his area barely scrape through each month while people in the city were minting money without putting in any effort. ‘‘Seasonal vegetables like spinach and cauliflower are growing in abundance here and we are not getting high rates in the mandi. In a day, we barely make Rs 100-Rs 125 from which we need to pay our labourers, take care of our costs and bear the risk of crop failure,’’ he said.
Farmers like Tek Chand take their daily produce to mandis across the city each morning and sell either to dealers or directly to retailers through an auction. At the mandi, where rates are decided by the quantity and quality of each produce, the vegetable becomes dearer by a few rupees.
In the last journey, from mandi to the retail market, however, the humble vegetable becomes a precious and pricey commodity. Depending on the area of the city, a kg of spinach that earns the farmer Rs 3 and the dealer at Azadpur Mandi Rs 10, costs the consumers around Rs 40. In areas like east and north Delhi, the prices might be slightly lower while in south Delhi areas you would be paying more.
The government has so far kept out of this. Said Brahm Yadav, chairman, Delhi Agricultural Market Board: ‘‘The government has no control over retail and we have been telling them for months now that there is a need for massive checks. The mandi is functioning as usual with both arrival and quality of food items absolutely normal. The earlier shortages have been met and if anything, prices of several items have come down.’’