Vegetable, fruit prices soar as Maharashtra farmers' stir enters Day 2

Prices of fruits and vegetables soared in Mumbai and other parts of Maharashtra as the indefinite strike by farmers demanding a government bailout from farm loan repayments entered the second day today.

Vegetable markets in most parts of the state wore a deserted look with no produce coming in as agitated farmers stayed away, even as protesting farmers stopped trucks carrying milk and agricultural produce to cities and towns of Maharashtra and dumped their contents on the roads.

Police said scores of people were taken into custody across the state. However farmers' organisations have threatened to continue with their strike till their demand for farm loan waiver was accepted by the Devendra Fadnavis government.

The protesting farmers received a shot in the arm after noted social activist Anna Hazare extended his support to the strike. He also offered to mediate between the farmers and the Maharashtra government.

''The government needs to take a sympathetic look at the problems faced by farmers and work for a solution,'' Hazare told reporters at his village in Ralegan Siddhi.

The indefinite strike has been called by the Kisan Kranti Morcha, an umbrella group of farmers' organisations from across Maharashtra.

State's milk co-operatives controlled by the opposition Congress and Nationalist Congress Party have also joined the strike and announced that they would not collect milk from dairy owners.

Chief minister Fadnavis, however, warned the co-operatives that the state government had the powers to supercede their boards and appoint administrators to ensure that milk collection continued as before. The CM also accused the opposition parties of instigating the strike.

However the Congress party denied this. ''Fadnavis has accused the opposition parties of instigating the farmers strike. It indicates his lack of administrative experience,'' Mumbai Congress party chief Sanjay Nirupam said in a message on Twitter.

Meanwhile, traders at the Agriculture Produce Marketing Committee markets in Mumbai said they are not getting enough supply of vegetables and fruits. Retailers said they were unable to obtain adequate supplies of fruits and vegetables for sale and the goods that were available were also priced higher.