GUWAHATI, Feb 23 - At a time when the government is claiming that inflation is on the wane, the gap between wholesale and retail prices of vegetables continues to be high.
The discrepancy between the wholesale and retail prices of vegetables in Guwahati stands above 28 per cent, according to a latest study by industry body ASSOCHAM.
According to ASSOCHAM�s study, �Vegetables Wholesale and Retail Price Discrepancy: 2016�, there was a 28.35 per cent gap in Guwahati between the wholesale and retail prices of vegetables between November 2015 and January 2016.
This was a marginal decline from the 28.44 per cent price difference which existed in the November 2014-January 2015 period, the study revealed.
Overall, across the country the disparity between wholesale prices and retail prices for essential vegetables like brinjal, cabbage and cauliflower went up beyond 53.3 per cent during November 2015-January 2016, which was 50.4 per cent as compared to the same period last year, according to the ASSOCHAM paper.
It, however, noted that any price discrimination between retail and wholesale of below 30 per cent �represents a normal case�. Guwahati, along with some other cities like Bhubaneswar and Gangtok, falls in this category.
�Majority of Indian retailers are selling vegetables at prices which are significantly higher than the Wholesale Price Index (WPI)... Normally, the difference between wholesale prices and retail prices on an average stays around 30 per cent,� it said.
The study has considered 28 market centres in India, including Ahmedabad, Amritsar, Bangalore, Bhopal, Bhubaneswar, Chandigarh, Chennai, Dehradun, Delhi, Gangtok, Guwahati, Hyderabad, Jaipur, Jammu, Kolkata, Lasalgaon, Lucknow, Mumbai, Nagpur, Nasik, Patna, Pimpalgaon, Pune, Raipur, Ranchi, Shimla, Srinagar and Trivandrum.
The study reveals that most of the centres have recorded huge discrimination between the wholesale prices and retail prices. �Out of the 28 centres, nearly 11 centres are charging more than all-India average retail prices and wholesale prices...,� it said.
Among the places where the retail prices of vegetables are more than 50 per cent of the wholesale prices are Hyderabad (132.3 per cent), Mumbai (94.7 per cent), Ahmedabad (92.5 per cent), Amritsar (91.4 per cent), Delhi (86.3 per cent), Dehradun (84.5 per cent), Chandigarh (84.1 per cent), Kolkata (74.4 per cent), Patna (65 per cent) and Ranchi (62.1 per cent).
The study said that the discrepancy between wholesale and retail prices benefited only the middlemen and traders, while the worst hit in the process remained farmers and consumers as farmers� margins are getting squeezed badly and consumers are being forced into paying unreasonably higher prices.
�Due to difference in both wholesale and retail prices, the extra amount which the end consumers are paying for vegetables is utterly disproportionate,� it added.
The essential vegetables incorporated in the study are brinjal long, brinjal round, cabbage, cauliflower, garlic, ginger, chilly, okra, onion, peas, potato fresh, potato store, tomato hybrid and tomato local.
Asking the government to play a very crucial role to protect the producers� interests, the industry body has said that improving infrastructure facility through encouragement of public-private partnership (PPP) for the development of cold storage facility should be provided, while on the retail front, the government needs to play a proactive role to control the retail price through a surveillance scheme.
�The government must ensure stability in the pricing of farm products during the peak seasons through a clear and transparent pricing policy and it also needs to play a very crucial role to protect the producer interest through strict action against middlemen and black marketers... The government also needs to review the transportation policy to reduce the cost factors of vegetables,� the study added.