There has been a sharp decline in arrivals across all agricultural commodities wholesale markets during April amid the COVID-19 crisis, according to a report. “There has been a sharp decline in arrivals in the first two weeks of April across agriculture commodities. While there are four primary reasons for this – delayed rabi harvest, labour shortage, lack of transport and reduced mandi operations – grains are also said to be hoarded by farmers or traders to be sold at a later date when mandi operations and logistics normalise,” ratings agency Crisil Research said in its report.
However, in the case of perishables such as fruits and vegetables, farmers are bearing the brunt of the crash in demand because of the lockdown, it added.
Further, it said that exports of grapes and mangoes are also halted as countries have sealed their borders to contain the pandemic. The upshot is that prices of fruits are 10 per cent lower domestically despite an 85 per cent fall in arrivals, it added.
Prices of fruits in the wholesale markets have declined due to lower exports of seasonal crops such as mango and grapes and limited domestic offtake amid the lockdown.
Meanwhile, there is a higher demand for pulses. However, due to hoarding amid the lockdown and limited availability of fresh fruits and vegetables, there is a surge in prices at the mandi, it added.
Mandi prices of vegetables have increased sharply as arrivals have plunged due to restricted market access to farmers.
However, middlemen are estimated to be procuring at much lower prices from farmers given their limited bargaining power due to the perishable nature of commodities, it added.