[Milk spilled on road as farmers go on indefinite strike in Maharashtra. (Photo: WhatsApp)]
Mumbai/Malegaon/Chinchkhed: Prices of vegetables and milk jumped more than 50 percent in major cities across Maharashtra on Friday, the second day of a strike by farmers demanding debt relief and higher prices for their produce.
"We received just 10 percent of supplies compared to normal. Prices of some vegetables have more than doubled," said Vilas Bhujbal, a trader based in the information and technology hub of Pune, accoding to Reuters.
Traders in Pune market yard said only 125 vehicles, including trucks, tempo and jeep reached the market on Friday morning. Usually, 1,230 vehicles come to the market daily.
“The shortage in supply of vegetables and fruits has led to a rise in prices. If the supply remains thin, prices will go up further,” said Vilas Bhujbal, wholesale trader of vegetable and fruits, according to Hindustan Times.
Shortage of vegetables are also being reported from Vashi - the main wholesale market near Mumbai.
There was hardly any vegetable at Vashi. The quality of vegetable was just like any other day but vehicles from farms had not reached there. And, whatever vegetables were being sold, the prices were jacked up," said a trader.
Farmers stopped sending fruit, vegetables and milk to cities on Thursday. They set up highway check posts to stop supplies getting through from states bordering Maharashtra, home to some 120 million people.
In Malegaon, protesting farmers on Thursday prevented small traders from going to weekly village markets. According to the complaint filed with the local police station, the farmers stopped the traders' vehicles and damaged their goods.
Police detained around 35 farmers in Nashik district on Friday after clashes in which protesting farmers damaged trucks and beat up some drivers.
The farmers want the government to grant a waiver on their loans, similar to the $5.6 billion in debt forgiveness announced by Uttar Pradesh in April.
While farmers want a loan waiver, the state government has sought time for deliberation. The strike is the farmers’ way of creating shortage of milk and vegetable supplies to putting pressure on the government to give in to their demands.
Maharashtra needs to spend 305 billion rupees ($4.7 billion) to write off debt owed by around 3.2 million farmers, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis told reporters on Thursday.
Such outbursts of rural discontent in Maharashtra and other states pose a challenge to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who has promised to double the income of farmers over the next five years.
Two-thirds of India's 1.3 billion people depend directly or indirectly on farming for their livelihood but only account for 14 percent of gross domestic product, reflecting a growing divide between the countryside and increasingly well-off cities.