Srinagar: In the famous market for fresh vegetables in City’s Amira Kadal, sellers are calculating bills of the groceries exported to outside, while those kept for locals have been barely purchased.
Usually the market would be sold out by late evening, but sellers, fearing perishing of vegetables, are seen waiting for local customers till late night.
This comes as floods submerge northern India resulting in an increased demand for Kashmir vegetables outside the union territory and consequently soaring prices in the local market, Director Agriculture Kashmir, Chowdhary Mohammad Iqbal said.
"Out of 2,16,785 Metric Tonnes of vegetables grown between June and July, 80,719 Metric Tonnes were exported till today," Iqbal said.
He said the intermittent closure of the only link road connecting Kashmir Valley to outside is posing a challenge in exporting.
"However, despite these challenges 100MT of vegetables were exported this week," Iqbal said.
Although not in huge quantities, Kashmir grows vegetables during off-season when most parts of the country are submerged amid monsoon rains, giving local growers here an opportunity to monopolise the market, Iqbal explained.
“As demand is greater than the supply, the local market is hit by inflation,” he said.
Among the vegetables exported are: Kale, Knol-Khol, Cauliflower, Cabbage, Fresh Beans, Potato, Garlic, Radish, Carrot, Capsicum, Cucumber, Tomato, Green Peas and Brinjal.
"Garlic tops the list with 31,000 Metric Tonnes of it being exported till date," Iqbal said.
Even as officials term it an advantage for Kashmiri growers, they have raised concerns over high-prices in the local market.
To keep the inflation in-check, Director Agriculture said they have improvised the farming and are expecting to produce 2,42,000 MT of vegetables in the month of August.
While tomatoes and Ridge Gourd are the most priced commodity sold at Rs 200/Kg, Beans, Peas, Bell Pepper follow at Rs 150/KG, resulting in the dearth of buyers here.
With only onions and potatoes available for affordable prices, valley-based customers with low incomes only have a few options to choose for their platters.
“Over a dozen customers came and after inquiring prices of each vegetable left empty handed,” said Muneem Bilal, a seller.
With these high prices, one prefers to purchase radish and fry them for dinner, quipped Irshad Ahmad as he asked for one kilo of radish to be packed.
“Keep those tomatoes inside a locker,” said a customer as he returned without buying anything.
Meanwhile, the inclement weather has hit the export too, as thousands of trucks carrying vegetables are stranded along the Srinagar-Jammu National Highway and the Mughal road in Pir Panjal, Director Agriculture said as he returned from the field where he took stock of the situation and expressed his worries over pershing of these vegetables, he said.
Regarding the torrential rains here in the Valley, the director said, for now it has inflicted no damage to the agriculture here and that “rains are good for current standing crops that are paddy fields.”
However, he said, he has issued an advisory in case the fields of vegetable crops are flooded.