The sweltering heat in Kolkata and surrounding districts are impacting vegetable production leading to a surge in prices, an official said on Tuesday.
Prices of common vegetables have increased by 15-30 per cent in recent weeks and unless there is rainfall within the next five to six days, rates are expected to rise further, a vendors' body said.
"The ongoing intense heat and lack of rain have had a significant impact on vegetable production. Supplies in producers' markets in the districts have already decreased drastically ," West Bengal Vendor's Association president Kamal De told PTI.
Citing an example, De said that farmers' markets or haats' at Gopalnagar close to Bongaon in North 24 Parganas district received an average of nearly 100-125 truckloads of pointed gourds per day during this time last year. But the number has dropped to 45 a day now.
"The situation is even worse at small markets ," De added.
There are about 50-60 large such haats' in the state.
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Crops are also showing early signs of withering due to the high temperatures, causing a significant reduction in yield. This has led to a shortage of supply at local haats', which has also pushed up prices.
The price of most vegetables hover over Rs 50 in local retail markets.
Gourd varieties were priced on the higher side. Ridge gourd was priced at Rs 60-70 per kg, bottle gourd (Rs 30-40 a kg), pointed gourd (Rs 80 per kg), and bitter gourd (Rs 80 a kg).
Other vegetables such as brinjal was priced at Rs 60 per kg, green mango at Rs 50 a kg, raw papaya at Rs 40-50 per kg and pumpkin at Rs 40 a kg.
"Vegetable availability has become unreliable and erratic because of the sharp increase in prices. This has caused problems in our retail sales, " a vegetable vendor in Kolkata's Dhakuria market said.
The intense heat has caused water levels in wells and shallow pumps to drop, affecting irrigation, De pointed out.
Farmers are also feeling the summer heat, with many reporting losses due to the decline in crop yield and the rise in input costs.
The state government officials said they are keeping a close watch and ensuring a steady power supply for irrigation.
The heatwave conditions in the southern West Bengal districts will continue for the next four days, the weather office had warned on Monday.
Bankura recorded the highest temperature in the state at 43.7 degrees Celsius, while Kolkata's maximum was 40 degrees Celsius, it said.
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