Demonetisation: Fruit, vegetable traders plan to halt operations if situation doesn’t improve
NEW DELHI: Traders are contemplating shuttering their operations in a few days if there is no respite from the cash crunch, which has triggered a payment crisis and sparked heated arguments between farmers, who are offering perishables at half to one-third the price that prevailed last week, and traders, who don’t have legal cash to pay.
“We will see for the next three to four days before taking a call to close the Azadpur mandi. If we don’t have money, how can we pay our labourers, farmer, and transporter?” said Metharam Kriplani, president of Chamber of Azadpur Fruit and Vegetable Traders.
Some market players said tax authorities have raided big traders in Azadpur, a major regional hub. Others said sellers were reluctantly accepting Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes from large buyers.
“For how long can you run a business in debt? Even paying half amount to farmers for their sale of produce is not solving the problem as it is leading to poor supplies and lowering the purchasing power of traders. The market will crash,” said Mukesh Tiwari, past chairman of Ghazipur mandi. The solution is to install card machines, said Balkrishan Sharma, who buys vegetables worth Rs 1-2 lakh a day for 50-100 vegetable vendors.
Kriplani, an apple trader, said prices have fallen in the past four days from Rs 30 to Rs 20 a kg. “Its a big loss for farmers. Further, the business is down by 30%-40%.”
Agricultural markets look deserted and offer ample parking space and very few trucks. Onion trader Abid Ali of Abdul Alin and Company said the number of trucks from Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Karnataka, where the harvest was going on, has fallen. “With lack of buyers — small street vendors, shopkeepers and aggregators for hotels and restaurants — the sale has crashed.” Onion price in mandis is in the range of Rs 5-Rs 10 a kg, while in retail, it is selling at Rs 30/kg.
Tuntun Bhagat, who retails vegetables in east Delhi, said. “The first two days, I gave credit to regular customers, but since I didn’t have the money, I couldn’t get supplies. On Saturday, I stood in line for five hours and today I have been able to comake a purchase.”
With potato harvest season beginning in Punjab and Himachal, farmers and aggregators like Bilal from Una are not happy. “We are not getting good rates. Then there is fight over notes.”
Surjit Mandal had brought banana and colocasia plant (arbi) from Meerut to the Ghazipur mandi. “I took a Rs 4,000 loan to come here expecting to earn Rs 8,000-Rs 9,000. But there’re no buyers,” he said.
Farmers are delaying payments to labourers who cut the produce, gunny bag sellers, transporters and mandi workers. “Those who trust me are giving me their service. I am also trusting the ‘babu’ who said he will pay me half for my produce and rest after a month,” said Iqbal from Shamli.
The ‘babu’ Iqbal was referring to is Mukesh Dhingra, a trader in Ghazipur, who has a huge pile of cauliflower and hardly any buyer. Ani Kumar, who trades capsicum, has even asked farmers not to send produce as he did not have money.
Source: ECONOMIC TIMES
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