Highway closure makes vegetables scarce, dearer; worse expected

Highway closure makes vegetables scarce, dearer; worse expected

SRINAGAR: Vegetables have become scarce and dearer in Kashmir Valley due to closure of Srinagar-Jammu highway, with the situation likely to worsen in coming days due to the agricultural losses suffered by the neighbouring states.
The landlocked Valley has witnessed a significant drop in supply of all essential commodities, including vegetables, due to closure of the highway since the last week.
According to the figures provided by officials of the Horticulture Planning and Marketing Department, the Valley receives an average 450 MT of fresh vegetable from the neighbouring states daily, while only 2-5 MT are made available locally.
“We have received almost no supply from outside during the past one week. We are forced to rely on the local supply,” a senior official told Kashmir Reader.
“Kale, spinach, radish, turnip and carrots reach the markets from local fields, but the supply is too low to meet the demand,” he added.
The consequent dearth of fresh vegetables in the Valley markets has led to sudden increase in the prices of the locally-produced varieties. For consumers, the retail market is already offering vegetables at inflated prices. Since last week, a kilogram of onions, turnips, kale, and spinach has been selling at Rs 35-40, Rs 20, Rs 50, and Rs 30, respectively.
While the dealers remain hopeful of receiving fresh supplies Wednesday onwards, the prices, they said, might take time to come down because of the agricultural losses caused by incessant rains in the neighbouring states.
Shabir Ahmad Wani, a wholesale dealer who operates at Iqbal Sabzi market at Batmaloo here—one of the main vegetable markets in Srinagar—said: “We receive most of the supplies from Punjab and Haryana, as the local production happens to be at its lowest at this time of the year. But there are reports of crop loss in the neighbouring northern states due to the rainfall recently. Our supplies, and therefore the prices of available varieties, will obviously get affected in the coming days.”
Tomato, cabbage, cauliflower, green pea, bean, cucumber, and gourd are among the chief vegetables imported from these states, he said.
Kursheed Ahmad, who is associated with vegetable trade in Parmipora Fruit Mandi here, said the stocks of only potatoes and onions are available in the Valley, as they can be safely stored for longer durations.
“For most other fresh vegetables, we depend on the daily imports from the other states. When the supply is hit, the prices naturally go up. Given the weather conditions, the situation may not improve immediately,” he said.