Mumbai: Cash crunch squishes tomato prices, APMC rate 1.75/kg

NASHIK: The prices of tomatoes have dropped to a new low of Rs 35 per 20 kg crate (Rs 1.75/kg), same is the case with onion due to confusion over payments and cash crunch in the Agriculture Produce Market Committee (APMC).

Tomato prices dropped due to less buyers and abundant harvest in Pimpalgaon tomato market. Tomatoes are usually brought in the 20 kg crates. The minimum price offered right now is Rs 35 per crate. The maximum price was Rs 175 and average price was Rs 105 per crate. The farmer incurs transport cost and yet is paid at abysmally low rate.

The cost of bringing the produce to the market is very high, stated farmer Mayur Dube-Patil. “It costs anything between Rs 15 to Rs 35 per crate depending on the distance of the farm to the APMC market. The present rates of Rs 35 per crate cover only the transport cost. This does not even cover the produce cost price, leave alone the profit. Farmers will now become impoverished,” he lamented.

Speaking of the cash crunch, leading merchant and Lasalgaon APMC Director Sachin Bramecha said that they have been allowed to give as many cheques as necessary. “However, we still need to pay the labourer and transporter in cash, which is in short supply. These sections of workers don’t accept cheques,” Bramecha stated.

The newly harvested lal or red onion fetched minimum Rs 500 per quintal. The maximum rate was Rs 1651 and average Rs 1251 per quintal.

In Pimpalgaon Baswant APMC the average rate was Rs 1000 per quintal. The stored Unhal variety onion was traded between Rs 400 to Rs 726 per quintal in Lasalgaon APMC, and between Rs 351 to Rs 600 per quintal in Pimpalgaon Baswant APMC. This onion is nearly spoiled and has begun sprouting.

According to government guidelines, traders can buy agriculture produce from the farmer through account payee cheques or RGFT. Left with no alternative, some farmers are grudgingly accepting bank payments.

Others, who can wait, are watching the situation. This can be seen from the amount of onion arrival in the largest onion market in the world, Lasalgaon. On Thursday, 9500 quintals were traded, compared to 20,000 quintals on normal days.

But consumers still pay up to `40 per kilo

Though tomatoes are sold at Rs 5-6 per kilo in the APMC market at Vashi, due to the involvement of middlemen and traders, costs remain unaffected for most consumers.

The cost of tomatoes in Thane was more last week, costing Rs 20 per kilo, while on Thursday, the cost has reduced to Rs 10 per kilo. The prices of tomatoes in Goregaon are Rs 30, while in the heart of the city, at Girgaum, the vegetable costs Rs 40 per kilo.

MONEY TALK

If any commuter gives me old notes of Rs 500 I tell them I won’t give change in return. The commuters mostly give me change because the meter is usually within the amount. Notes should be changed in every 10 years so that those who stack black money are caught.- Anish Khan, Taxi Driver at Wadala West

Every month my parents give me pocket money of Rs 30,000. This month  it was in old notes. This sudden decision has left me broke.  I was forced to bunk college as I had to exchange these notes. I had to stand in long queues, and now no one is giving me any change.- Sohail Khan, BMM Student, Chembur

Demonetisation has affected upper middle class people. We have to bear the brunt of angry customers who hurl abuses at us on realizing the ATM is closed due to shortage of cash. The ATM at this bank is closed since the past four days. I am not the decision maker.- Sunil Yadav, ATM security guard near Nariman Point

 Though it is a bold move of our Central government, it has badly hit our business. Every second customer is giving Rs 2000 note for the meal worth Rs 250. How and from where will I bring the change for every customer? Our sale has got badly hit by at least 20-25 percent.- Vijay Bangara, Nariman Point-based restaurant owner

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