Prices of potato, dairy items and meat may rise further with cold storages running out of refrigerants. The poultry industry is in distress as they are unable to get feed for birds. Retail chains said customers continued to hoard, leaving very low stocks of staples like atta, poha, rajmaand packaged food like biscuits and instant noodles.
Farmer leaders said the situation is worse than demonetisation, which only delayed payments and did not damage the crop. But now, they said, losses will mount because it is harvest time for grapes, watermelons, bananas, muskmelon, chana, cotton, chillies, turmeric, jeera, coriander, onion and potato.
This is aimed at avoiding panic among consumers for essential food items. Twelve thousand vendors have been approved in Uttar Pradesh to home deliver essential commodities, said Devesh Chaturvedi, principal secretary, agriculture, Uttar Pradesh. In the Delhi NCR region Mother Dairy doubled its supplies of fruits and vegetable in its 310 stores to 330 tonnes.
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.
"The trading community will not lag behind in extending all cooperation at this hour of critical crisis for the nation," said Khandelwal.
In Mumbai and Pune, traders have issued statements that they will shutter their shops on Wednesday, while Nashik merchants said they would do the same. In Delhi’s Azadpur market, supplies poured in normally, but purchase by retailers was down 60-80%. However, government officials have ruled out closure of grain and vegetable markets.
FCI and government agencies have 50 million tonne rice and 27.5 million tonne wheat, as on March 1.
Sales of grocery, dairy products and fruits had increased in recent weeks as consumers stocked up to guard against any disruption.
Cotton seed manufacturers want the government to immediately announce the revised price of BT Cotton seed, so that there is no shortage of the seed in Punjab and Haryana where the planting season begins in a fortnight.
Apart from reduction in the bank interest rate and extension of soft loans, the industry body has asked for a moratorium for repayment of principal and interest amount to the banks for four quarters. The textile and clothing Industry employs over 105 million people and also earn around US $ 40 billion forex, apart from substantial revenue under GST and other taxes.
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