Express News Service

ELURU: The mystery illness, the origin of it is yet to be ascertained, has left vegetable vendors of Eluru in dire straits. People of Eluru city and its suburbs are reluctant to purchase vegetables in general and leafy vegetables in particular after the primary reports found the presence of lead and nickel in the blood samples of patients, which is attributed to consumption of water and vegetables. 

This is in spite of the fact that all kinds of vegetables arrive at Eluru from other districts like Krishna, Guntur and East Godavari. With people shying away from buying vegetables, the vendors, who faced the brunt of lockdown, are incurring huge losses. “The prices of vegetables have come down in the past few days. The mystery illness has created a sense of fear among the public to consume vegetables,” S Harish, a vegetable vendor told TNIE. 

The vegetable market, which used to be crowded during normal times, wore a deserted look now. Harish said he used to buy vegetables worth Rs 18,000 to Rs 20,000 a day and his daily business would be anywhere between Rs 25,000 and Rs 30,000, generating him a minimum profit of Rs 5,000. “Now, I stopped buying vegetables in large quantity from wholesale dealers fearing losses,” he added. 

“We are forced to dump leafy vegetables or throw them to cattle as there are no takers for them,” a woman vendor from neighbouring Tangellamudi, who set her shop at the wholesale vegetable market in the heart of the city, said.

Another young vendor V Sai said, “People are not coming forward to buy vegetables since the outbreak of mystery illness. Earlier, people from neighbouring villages like Sriparu, Kankipadu and Peddapadu, who visit the city on some work, used to buy vegetables at the market.’’

Sai said they procure leafy vegetables from Guntur, Mangalagiri and Bapatla, while carrots, beetroot, cauliflower and cabbage come from Vijayawada. We buy them from wholesale traders and sell the vegetables by adding a little price margin, he added.

“By afternoon, we would have sold all the leafy vegetables that we buy from wholesale traders and go back to our village. Now, it is past afternoon and we are not able to sell even half of the stock we brought,” a woman vendor from Tangellamudi said.

The people’s reluctance  to consume vegetables, brought cheers to sellers of chicken, meat, fish and other non-vegetarian food items, who had already witnessed a boom in sales due to the Covid-19 pandemic. “With the chicken prices hovering between Rs 200 and Rs 220 per kg, the demand for eggs and fish has gone up.  It is a fact that there has been a rise in our business since the outbreak of the mystery illness,’’ a chicken shop owner said.


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