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Bulbul sends vegetable prices soaring

Swathes of agricultural land destroyed by storm

By Kinsuk Basu in Calcutta

  • Published 27.11.19, 2:08 AM
  • Updated 27.11.19, 2:08 AM
The tropical cyclone that lashed seven districts of Bengal destroyed around six lakh hectares of agriculture land in North and South 24-Parganas
The tropical cyclone that lashed seven districts of Bengal destroyed around six lakh hectares of agriculture land in North and South 24-Parganas SHutterstock

If vegetables are burning a hole in your pocket at a time they usually sell cheap, blame Cyclone Bulbul.

The storm which made landfall on the Bengal coast as a severe cyclonic storm on November 9 devastated large swathes of agriculture land

in North and South 24-Parganas, the principal suppliers of vegetables to Calcutta.

As a result, the prices of many vegetables have been soaring around the time they usually remain low. Cauliflower, which would usually sell for Rs 10-20 apiece this time of the year, sold at

Rs 35-40 on Tuesday across Calcutta. Green chillies have touched the Rs 100/kg mark, while capsicum has been selling for more than Rs 80 a kg over the past few days. Cabbage is selling for

Rs 40 a kg, while brinjal’s price is varying between Rs 40 and Rs 50 a kilo.

It’s a double whammy for consumers as the price hike coincides with a steep rise in the onion price, which breached the Rs 100/kg mark on Monday.

Officials in the agricultural marketing department who have been assessing the impact of the cyclone on farmland have estimated that it would take at least three weeks for fresh produce to reach the market and prices to come down.

The tropical cyclone that lashed seven districts of Bengal destroyed around six lakh hectares of farmland in North and South 24-Parganas, a report by the agriculture department says.

Of these, vegetables are grown on 26,000 hectares in North 24-Parganas and 16,000 hectares in South 24-Parganas.

“The two districts together are the biggest suppliers of vegetables to retail markets in Calcutta,” said Pradip Mazumdar, adviser to chief minister Mamata Banerjee on agricultural produce.

“Unlike paddy, vegetable plants die if water accumulates in the fields for around three days. Bulbul struck just when farmers were readying to harvest their produce,”

Some of the worst-hit areas are Namkhana and Kakdwip in South 24-Parganas and Bongaon, Basirhat, Sandeshkhali and Bagda in North 24-Parganas.

Farmers from these parts said acres of land with plants bearing vegetables such as cabbage, cauliflower, carrot, green chilli and brinjal were damaged following water accumulation.

“After plants wilt, farmers need time to prepare the soil for fresh sowing,” said Kamal Dey, a member of the state task force on vegetables and the president of the West Bengal Vendors’ Association.

“We have noticed that flowering has begun in some fields. Some of these vegetables are likely to reach the market by mid-December.”

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