Wholesale vegetable markets decide to shut down in Pune, Mumbai, govt falls back on FPCs

Parthasarathi Biswas
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With wholesale markets going for the strike, the bigger question before the authorities is to ensure regular supply of perishable commodities to urban areas. (Express photo/Arul Horizon) 

The decision of traders and commission agents at wholesale markets in Pune and Mumbai to suspend trade has put a question mark over supplies of fresh fruits and vegetables. The state government has asked deputy registrars of various districts to coordinate with housing societies to enable Farmers Producers Companies (FPCs) deliver groceries and vegetables at doorsteps in housing societies.

On Wednesday, the traders and commission agents of Pune’s wholesale market issued a letter to the administration of the Pune wholesale market, seeking suspension of trade from Thursday. A similar letter was issued by labour unions, who pointed at areas under the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) being sealed off to control the spread of COVID-19. When opened for auction on Thursday, the administrator of the market issued a letter ordering suspension of all trade from April 10. Traders were given time till Thursday to sell the material they have in godowns.

This suspension is only applicable for fruits, vegetables, onion and potato markets. However, the grain market will remain operational. The four sub-yards of the market -- Moshi, Uttam Nagar, Manjri and khadki – will remain open for trade.

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The deserted Market yard in Pune as traders operating in Mumbai and Pune wholesale markets have decided to suspend operations on Thursday till further notice as Coronavirus pandemic threatens to go out of hand. Express photo by Arul Horizon, 09/04/2020, Pune

A similar decision was taken by the traders of Vashi wholesale market as rumours started making rounds of a positive case being registered from among the spice traders of the market. On Thursday, onion and potato traders decided to suspend work from April 13 in view of the spread of coronavirus. Rajendra Shelke, head of the traders and commission agents association, said the four-day period will help traders finish off their stocks. Chances of a similar suspension of work in the vegetables and fruits market is also likely. Meanwhile, the Mumbai APMC has also decided to suspend operations from April 11.

Sunil Pawar, director of marketing, Government of Maharashtra, said around 85 per cent of the 307 wholesale markets in the state was operational, but arrivals were low.

With wholesale markets going for the strike, the bigger question before the authorities is to ensure regular supply of perishable commodities to urban areas. On Thursday, Anil Kawade, commissioner, cooperation, issued an order to district deputy registrars (DDRs) to coordinate with housing societies to ensure perishable items were supplied there. The order stated that the move would help prevent people from going out continuously amid the nationwide lockdown. The DDRs will coordinate with the FPCs, who will be given pre-ordered lists from housing societies, which would be delivered at a fixed time.