Transport curbs may cause food prices to rise

A possible spike in food prices and scarcity of fruits and vegetables in the coming days are knocking on urban India’s doors as transport curbs and pandemic fears open up a wide chasm between the farm and the fork. But urban consumers are not the only ones who will have to pay dearly for fresh fruits & vegetables; farmers will have to dump their perishables or leave the crop to rot in the fields.

Not only have crop-growing states like Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Karnataka and Uttar Pradesh have imposed lockdowns or curfews in a desperate attempt to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus, but inter-state goods transport is at risk as well, as truck drivers are harassed at borders. Further, there is also a dearth of casual labourers who sort, grade and load harvests  & if mandis (rural markets) shutter across producer states, panic purchases, could spike the prices of fruits & vegetables.

Pankaj Khandelwal, managing director of Mumbai’s INI Farms, told media “Our vehicles were stopped in Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh. Scared truck drivers are running away. We are now clearing existing stock from warehouses and have asked farmers to stop harvesting.”

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