Prices of vegetables skyrocket after ban, consumers struggle to 'adjust'

Gangtok, 13 Apr:

The ban on sale of non-organic vegetables in the State by the Government has led to people limiting their choices or paying more. Prices of organic vegetables, which were already higher than the non organic ones, have gone up since the ban came into effect.

Before the ban, non organic beans were priced at Rs 40 per kg while the organic ones were priced at Rs 50 per kg. Now the organic beans available in the markets are priced at Rs 80 per kg. Non organic cauliflower was priced at Rs 25 per kg while the organic ones came at Rs 40-50 per kg. Now consumers have to pay Rs 80 per kg for cauliflower.

A quick survey carried out by SummitTimes in some shops at Lal Market showed that a number of basic vegetables are disappearing from market’s shelves as the effects of the non-organic restriction begin to manifest.

As per the rate board outside the organic market, vegetables like brinjal, karela, lady's finger and dalley were not available in the market today while capsicum is not even listed on the rate board.

Radish and cabbage are also in short supply because it is not the season here for these vegetables but beyond the State's borders they are readily available.

In most shops, coriander leaves, lemons and capsicums were missing from the shelves. Hence, coriander leaves and capsicums have gone missing from dishes in some restaurants.

Customers could only find locally grown beans, peas, carrot, cabbage, cauliflower and leafy vegetables like rai saag and duku which too are now ‘pricey’, according to some of them.

“We are currently struggling to maintain adequate supply of vegetables due to the ban. However, we have managed to get few vegetables from local farmers who charge more than our usual suppliers,” a vendor from Lal Market said.

The upsurge in vegetable prices has also left many restaurants, especially pure vegetarian eateries in jitters as their menus shrink amid higher prices. If this continues, we might have to hike our prices in order to serve variety of dishes to our customers, said one restaurateur.

But some restaurants who claim to have always served organic food, say, “We have always supported the Government’s decision to ban non-organic vegetables. We always serve homegrown vegetables to our customers.”

Also, since the recent raid where non organic vegetables worth about Rs 4 lakh were seized and disposed of by the Horticulture Department, traders have been reluctant to speak on the issue.