Prices of essential items skyrocket in city


SHILLONG, June 12: At a time when the entire country is reeling under the burden of escalating fuel prices and costly LPG cylinders, the common vegetable is slowly but surely disappearing from the food plates, thanks to the remarkable appreciation in prices in the last few weeks.
The skyrocketing price of vegetables has hit the whole country and Meghalaya is no different. There’s not one single reason that explains the cause of this surge and all explicitly or implicitly linked to one another.
The first starts at the very bottom of the supply chain – the yield. Floods in Assam have wreaked havoc on human lives and agricultural produce resulting in lesser stocks reaching the wholesale markets. The second reason is the surge in fuel prices, a direct impact of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The main states that supply most of the vegetables to Shillong are West Bengal, Bihar and Assam. As the oil prices increase, the cost of transportation increases, and till it reaches the last seller, the price has been increased almost four-fold.
The entire country has been facing a massive price hike in the sale of vegetables, Meghalaya is no different.
A survey of the local markets by The Shillong Times revealed that the price of vegetables and meat increases proportionately with the increase in the distance of the local market from Iewduh, the largest traditional market of the state.
Tomatoes that were being sold for around Rs 35-40 per kg few weeks ago are now selling at Rs 80-100; cabbage prices have doubled from Rs 30-40 to Rs 60-80; French beans are selling at a premium rate of Rs 100-120/kg as against Rs 50-60 earlier; lady’s finger or okra are priced at Rs 80-100 as compared to Rs 40-45; carrot prices have gone up from Rs 60-70 per kg to Rs 100 now; cauliflower prices have shot up from Rs 60 to Rs 80-100 per kg.
Even the humble potato and onion have seen a hike of around Rs 10 per kg. Both potato and onion are now selling at Rs 30-35/kg with slight variation in prices in different markets.
These unaffordable prices have impacted a huge chunk of the working class. The common man, who probably had at least two wholesome meals a day, including a kilo of vegetables that is cooked in a household to suffice for the day, now is rationing half a kilo of a single vegetable for a family of four.
Rosha Mary, a vegetable seller at Upper Shillong explains how the prices travel up the ladder — the vendor buys beans from the local farmer at Rs 100/kg, when that produce enters the market, it is priced at Rs 120/kg, and when it reaches the final seller after a long bumpy road trip, it’s now priced at over Rs 150/kg. This produce is bought in bits and pieces and ends up yellowing or rotting and eventually ends up in the bin. Then starts the vicious cycle of lending, loaning and debt-paying — too much for too little, having too less to serve too many.
“All that is there in a farmer’s life is a long waiting — waiting for the seasons to change, waiting for the sun to shine, waiting for the crops to yield, waiting for the day to end, waiting for money to come in and waiting for a peaceful sleep,” said a young farmer’s son who sat in the little vegetable shop, when he was asked about what needs to be done to bring the prices back to normal.
Meanwhile, for the majority of meat-consuming Meghalaya citizens, that too is a staple that is gradually slipping out of the palate. Pork has gone up to Rs 420 a kg while beef is now an exorbitant Rs 450-500 a kg while the meaty calf sells at Rs 600 a kg. A butcher selling beef says, “Many people now buy just the bones which are cheaper
(Contd from P-1) in order to make soup. At this rate many people will have to eat only rice and soup or dal. But dal too is very expensive for most households.”
As for fruits, they have become the exclusive preserve of the rich, says a fruit vendor in Laitumkhrah.
And speaking of prices, Laitumkhrah market is comparatively the most expensive.