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Fruit, vegetable mandis expect supplies to normalise by weekend

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Mandis in Maharashtra, though, may take more time to normalise operations

Pune | New Delhi: Major fruit and vegetable wholesale markets remained shut in Maharashtra and partly closed in many other areas including Delhi on Wednesday as supplies dwindled, but traders expect operations to normalise in two to three days with authorities issuing curfew passes for people and vehicles.

Authorities and traders are working out meticulous plans to streamline flow of vehicles and people engaged in supplying these essential commodities amidst the nationwide lockdown, while crowds are being controlled by allowing entry only to large buyers, traders said.

“Now thing will normalise,” said Adil Ahmad Khan, chairman of Azadpur Mandi Agricultural Produce Marketing Committee (APMC) in Delhi. Fruit and vegetable sales are likely to pick up from Thursday with the mandi issuing e-passes to mandi traders, workers and transporters to move in the three-week lockdown announced to contain the Covid-19 outbreak, he said.

Mandis in Maharashtra, though, may take more time to normalise operations. “We expect to start the market by Saturday,” Mumbai APMC director Shankar Pingale said. “We have called a meeting on Thursday to find a solution.”

Raju Shelake, head of the onion and potato yard of Vashi APMC, said the main problem the mandi faces now is getting labour.

In Pune, where the wholesale trade remained closed, district collector Naval Kishor Ram said, “We are working out a meticulous plan for easing supply of fruits and vegetables and expect it to be operational in about two days.”

Maharashtra Farmer Producer Organisation (MahaFPC) is working with the Pune Municipal Corporation to set up direct farmer to consumer stalls across the city. “We are ready for arranging the supply,” said Yogesh Thorat, managing director of MahaFPC. “Things like movement of our vehicles, the people and maintaining hygiene are being worked out.”

In Uttar Pradesh, the government has allowed farmers to sell to village and district-level aggregators and asked mandi wholesalers to sell directly to retailers outside the mandi so as not to crowd the market yards, state principal secretary, agriculture, Devesh Chaturvedi said.

Raju Kohli of Kohli Traders at Azadpur Mandi welcomed the idea of issuing e-passes for the movement of people and vehicles, but said small street vendors should also be allowed in mandis. “It is not possible for us to go and sell to large and small retailers. The street vendors and small retailers account to more than 60% of our buyers,” he said.

“Also, curfew passes should be issued in the mandi rather than us to go to the municipal corporation office,” Kohli said.

India started a three-week nationwide lockdown on Wednesday to contain the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic that has so far infected more than 445,000 people across the world and claimed more than 19,700 lives.


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