Saida Kadal- Nigeen stretch turns hub of vegetable vendors

Like many other city pavements, the Saida Kadal – Nigeen stretch has become a hub of local vegetable vendor’s selling farm fresh vegetables at prices much lower than that of market cost.
Drivers, shopkeepers and even daily wage workers have turned into vegetable vendors to sell produce from the nearby Dal lake.

Squatting at his stall at Rangar Stop Saida Kadal, Showkat Ahmad Dar’s life has witnessed a transition from being a bus driver to a vegetable vendor.
“For last two and half months, I have been selling vegetables produced from Dal but now the stocks available to us are vegetables from outside Kashmir. We sell vegetables during the hours of the deal in the strike,” Dar says.
Calling this year a bumper season of vegetable’s, Bashir Ahmad Sofi, a daily-wage worker-turned-vegetable vendor says the unrest has paved way for almost 20-30 vegetable vendors between the Saida Kadal- Ashai Bagh stretch.

“Kanda Mohalla in the Dal Lake is where a local mandi is located where trading happens in the morning. Every vendor takes his shikara and brings the vegetables to the roadside stalls for sale,” says Sofi. Right next to Sofi’s stall is the stall of Ghulam Nabi who has also been selling vegetables at Gagribal during the unrest. Others such as Muhammad Rafiq who owned a vegetable shop at Dargah Hazratbal has now also relocated to the roadside at Saida Kadal .
“My brother’s have shifted to Habbak where they run similar stalls. We buy wholesale stocks from Parimpora and Batamaloo mandis but don’t make much of profit,” says Rafiq.
Vendors such as Muhammad Shafi Beg who used to sell vegetables at the roadside every summer says due to the unrest profit margin has squeezed by almost 50 per cent. “ More than making a profit, customer is the first priority and we have to ensure that people don’t face shortage of vegetables,” says Beg who also sells local Pomegranates and even grass for livestock such as sheep.
As part of contributing to the social cause amid the unrest, these roadside vegetable vendors in the recent past have donated vegetables to hospitals and orphanages, says Ali Muhammad , a Dal inhabitant. He is part of ten vegetable vendors who do business from a pavement near Nigeen lake.
According to Ali Muhammad there has been a massive drop in vegetable prices due to the bumper season this year.
“Beans, Brinjals, Spinach, Turnip and Cucumber have been most popular selling local vegetables. We go to the mandi at 2 AM everyday and set-up our stalls by 5:30 AM. Our movement is often restricted by security forces and there have been times when our vegetables have turned stale because we were not allowed to set up stalls,” says Ali Muhammad.
Such has been the produce this year that vegetables in large quantity has been supplied to Jammu, says Bashir Ahmad, a wholesale vegetable dealer. ” We have had a surplus vegetable production which gave us the option of supplying vegetables to outside Kashmir,” says Bashir.