Inflation causes vegetable prices in Karnataka to skyrocket.

Image Source: The Economic TImes

Hoteliers, caterers, restaurant owners and the common man are starting to get despaired due to the sudden rise in prices of vegetables in the state. Until a fortnight ago, the prices of vegetables had been affordable but had shot up suddenly due to unseasonal rainfall that caused a supply shortage in the state. Hotel and restaurant owners have already increased the menu prices due to the rise in commercial gas cylinders.

The rise in vegetable prices had begun with tomato when it breached the Rs 110 mark. Tomato’s prices had been marginally reduced by 20% however it bounced back soon on Monday this week. However, drumsticks are causing a huge hole in the pocket of the people. On Saturday last week, drumsticks were worth Rs 220 a kilo but they soon shot by Rs 100 to Rs 320 a kilo a few days later. In addition to these vegetables, the curry cucumber has shot up to Rs 80 per kilo this week. This vegetable has had its prices at Rs 15 to Rs 20 per kilo back in September. Furthermore, ivy gourd costs Rs 110 to buy a kilogram.

Not only the vegetables mentioned above are expensive other vegetables have gotten expensive. Vegetables like double beans cost Rs 90 a kilo, cowpeas at Rs 100 a kilo, capsicum at Rs 140 a kilo, ridge gourd at Rs 90 a kilo, cauliflower and cabbage cost Rs 70 a kilo, and carrot costs Rs 100 a kilo. The only vegetable which is currently pocket friendly is the pumpkin. A pumpkin costs Rs 20 a kilo.

The Dakshina Karnataka Hotel Owners’ Association president, Kudpi Jagadeesh Shenoy, said that various hotel and restaurant owners have already lost out on their margins steadily due to the sudden rise in vegetable prices. Mr Shenoy said that his hotel has already increased the prices of tea, coffee and a few items on the menu by about Rs 5. He said that the Rs 5 hike was done due to the rise in the cost of commercial gas and now the prices of vegetables are shocking. He hopes that the situation returns to normal. Furthermore, all the restaurant and hotel owners feel the same.

A caterer from a popular restaurant said that his expenditure and income is nearly the same. He said that he and his fellow businesses are surviving because the customers are coming back to their businesses. This helps them to balance out the revenue. The caterer is hopeful that Covid-19 would not resurge as restrictions will have a more damaging effect on the business than a temporary rise in the prices of vegetables.

The secretary of Horticultural Producers Co-operative Marketing and Processing Society Limited, Ravichandra Shetty, said that there will be no respite in the prices of vegetables soon. He added that the prices of vegetables will not go down until the unseasonal rainfall in the regions Chikamagaluru and Hassan. These two regions of Karnataka produce vegetables for local consumption in the state.

He further adds that the Kukke Subrahmanya Temple wants 400 kilos of ivy gourd at Rs 30 per kilo for the Shashti fest. However, he says that it is a complete loss for them since the procurement price of the vegetable stands at Rs 90 per kilo.

Not only hotel and restaurant owners are facing the brunt of expensive vegetables, but various government schools across Karnataka are also facing the same brunt. The government schools in the state provide mid-day meals for students who come for their studies. The government provides the school with wheat and rice while the rest is to be procured by the state schools. The schools are supposed to buy tur dal, edible oil and vegetables. Due to the low remuneration of the government to the schools, the schools are finding it difficult to purchase the essential items for the mid-day meals. However, in the Mysuru region, the schools have been given the freedom to purchase whatever they feel like to provide for mid-day meals. This has shown good success.

The Central Government ought to help out Karnataka with its crisis with the prices of vegetables. If required the government needs to import vegetables from other countries so the common man does not face any issues while consuming to the fullest. Moreover, the mid-day meal is an important aspect of a student in a government school as they need good food to concentrate on studying. Hotels and restaurants also play a vital role in the economy since they provide employment. Soaring prices of vegetables will cause unintended problems in the hotel industry.  

References: Times of India and the New Indian Express.                    

Parimal Saraf

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