Chennai: With mercury hovering at around 100’ F, the city’s busiest market in Koyambedu appears to be deserted, adding to the woes of vegetable and fruit vendors. Sales of fruits and vegetables have crashed this summer. Vendors say that season-friendly vegetables such as pumpkin, beetroot, radish and bottle guard are garnering a good demand every day despite the overall low sales. Lemon, green peas, beans and double beans are the dearer ones during this time of the year.
P. Manavalan who has been selling fruits for the past two decades in the market attributes ‘high prices’ as the reason for the reduction in sales. “We haven’t received rain in recent times. How can production be satisfactory without water?” he asked when asked about the status of production. He added that presently, apples and pomegranates are relatively unavailable in the market and they have been procuring those at high cost from other states.
Fruit sellers say that though the sales of a few fruits have gone down, seasonal products such as plums, mangoes, watermelon, etc, still enjoy a good demand. “Schools closing for summer vacations and other financial commitments people have during this month such as paying school/college fees for their children, either keeps them away from the market or limits their purchase,” he remarked.
He appeared to be optimistic about business getting back on track by next month (June). “Everything is available in the market as we are not confined to the state but procure products from across the country,” he said when asked about the unavailability of any products in the market.
Rajendran, a vegetable vendor, pointed out that the recent hike in government bus fares and mushrooming of supermarkets and mini-markets in every pocket of the city are the two root causes for lower sales.
V. R. Soundarajan, advisor of the wholesale department at the Koyambedu market, says that though sales are down, prices of all vegetables excluding one or two are relatively cheaper this year when compared to last year. “Production has been the same this year but purchasing parity of people has reduced drastically this year,” he added.