'Vegetable rates may soar as production season ends'

New Delhi: Prices of vegetables in India's retail markets are likely to go up further in the coming months with the peak production season coming to an end, industry chamber Assocham said on Sunday on the basis of a study it has conducted. The report said there would be "more pressure on the market arrivals of vegetables as production season eases", on the basis of a "most worrying" trend that saw vegetable prices rising up to 100 per cent in the April-July period due to low arrivals of the harvest in the markets. "There is a huge gap between retail and wholesale price of vegetables. On an all-India average basis, retailers are selling at more than 52.7 per cent of wholesale prices," Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India Secretary General D.S. Rawat said in a statement here. At the retail level, potato prices increased by about 100 per cent during the April-July period, over the corresponding period of 2015, followed by cabbage (49.3 per cent), chillies (47.8 per cent), garlic (37 per cent), cauliflower (33.9 per cent), tomato local (26 per cent), tomato hybrid (25.6 per cent), potato fresh (25 per cent), okra (22.3 per cent), and brinjal (20.8 per cent). "It indicates a worrying situation where market arrivals of vegetables have recorded contraction despite being a peak season for production," the report said. The gap between wholesale and retail prices is as much as over 75 per cent in some cases like brinjal, or eggplant, and over 62 per cent for tomatoes, it added. In terms of locational gaps, it is extremely high by as much as over 80 per cent in places like Mumbai, Delhi and Patna, while in several other cities it is well over 50 per cent, the report said. Lack of basic infrastructure puts further strain in the arrival of vegetables which results in more wastage during the peak production period because producers have to sell immediately. "Therefore, there is a need of building cold storage facilities in production centres. Government should improve infrastructure facility by encouraging PPP (public-private partnership) initiative for the development of cold storage. "Also there is need to develop infrastructure that could be directly accessible to the farmers and bridge the gap between fields and markets," the report said. Meanwhile, India's annual retail inflation for July shot up beyond the 6 per cent level mainly on higher prices for food articles like pulses and vegetables official data showed on Friday. The retail inflation, based on the Consumer Price Index (CPI) of the Central Statistics Office (CSO), rose to its highest level in 23-months from 5.77 per cent in June and 3.69 per cent in the like period of last year. The annual retail inflation for rural India was 6.66 per cent, while that for the urban centres was 5.39 per cent. The galloping annual food inflation reached 8.35 per cent for the whole of India, 8.25 per cent in rural areas and 8.80 per cent in the urban conclaves. Among the food items, the annual rise was 27.53 per cent for pulses and 14.06 per cent for vegetables.