Strike off, vegetable prices to normalise in Bangalore


Bangalore : The exorbitant prices of fruits and vegetables are expected to normalise in India’s IT capital in the next two days, with agro-traders in Karnataka calling off their weeklong strike.

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The strike to protest the entry of multinationals in the sector was called off Tuesday following talks with Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy. It had hit the supply of vegetables and fruits in the IT capital, with prices almost doubling over the week.

The strike came after the state legislature’s approval to amend the Agriculture Produce Marketing Committee (APMC) Act to permit contract farming and allow MNCs and big Indian players to enter the agro-trade and set up their own market yards.

The state government had gone ahead with its decision in spite of protests, as the union government is keen that all states allow major players into the sector dominated by small and medium players so far.

Kumaraswamy met representatives of striking traders and farmers Tuesday and promised to set up a committee to look into the demands that the interest of existing players and farmers be protected before implementing the amended APMC Act.

The committee, to be headed by Agricultural Marketing Minister Sharanabasappagouda Darshanapur, will have representatives from traders, trade bodies, farmers, workers and political parties.

Ramesh Chandra Lahoti, chairman of the APMC committee of the Federation of Karnataka Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FKCCI), said the protest had been called off on the understanding that the amended act will be kept in abeyance even if it received the governor’s assent till the committee takes a final decision.

Lahoti told IANS that traders would have lost Rs.50 billion in turnover and the government over Rs.500 million in taxes because of the strike.

On the loss to farmers, Lahoti said it was “very difficult to estimate”.

Farmers’ leaders too said they were not in a position to estimate the loss as growers might have sold the produce to the state-backed Horticultural Producers Cooperative Marketing Society (HOPCOMS), which has nearly 500 outlets in Bangalore alone.