Onion hits one-year high as import prices soar

- Post Report, Kathmandu

Aug 20, 2015-

The price of onion has hit a one-year high of Rs100 per kg in the retail markets of the Kathmandu Valley. Although other vegetables have started becoming cheaper, onion and potato have been on an upward trend for the past few days. Onion and potato prices jumped 41 percent and 24 percent respectively in the last two weeks. Onions cost Rs90 per kg at the Kalimati Fruits and Vegetables Market, one of the largest wholesale vegetable markets in the valley.

Traders said that onion prices rose due to mounting prices in India from where Nepal imports 90 percent of its requirement of onions. “We are totally dependent on India for onions. So a price rise there has a direct effect on the Nepali market,” said Dadhiraj Upreti, one of the major wholesalers at Kalimati.

Traders said that onion prices could rise further as it would take some time for new harvests to arrive. Meanwhile, ongoing protests in the Tarai districts could also disrupt transportation of goods imported from India triggering a surge in prices.

Indian media reported that prices went through the roof due to a fall in the production this year because of heavy unseasonal rains. Onions cost IRs70-80 per kg retail in New Delhi while the wholesale price is IRs50 per kg.

Similarly, potato prices have soared over the period. Red potato costs Rs80-90 per dharni (2.5 kg) in the retail market. The wholesale price of potato is Rs77.5 per dharni. “This is the off-season for potatoes, so the supply has been low in recent days,” said Binay Shrestha, deputy director of the Kalimati Fruits and Vegetables Market Development Board (KFVMDB).

However, prices of most seasonal vegetables like tomato, cabbage, cauliflower, egg plant, French bean, ladies finger and squash have dropped sharply by up to 37 percent in the wholesale markets over the last two weeks. Traders attributed the drop in prices to improved supplies with new harvests arriving in the market. The valley’s major wholesale markets have reported a rise in deliveries of seasonal vegetables from various parts of the country.

“Prices were on the higher side until two weeks ago as farmers were busy planting paddy and there was a slump in the supply in the market. But supplies have been improving these days,” said Bharat Khatiwada, president of the Kalimati Fruits and Vegetables Wholesalers Association. According to him, the Kalimati market has been receiving 550-600 tonnes of vegetables daily against 500-550 tonnes two weeks ago.

The price of small tomato fell to Rs40 per kg on Wednesday from Rs55 per kg a week ago. French bean is available at Rs55 per kg, down from Rs74 per kg. While the price of squash dropped to Rs28 per kg from Rs45, the price of ladies finger decreased to Rs38 from Rs45. Egg plant prices have dropped to Rs25-Rs30 per kg from Rs28-Rs35 last week.

Published: 20-08-2015 09:55

More on this story

Vehicles carrying daily essentials like onion and other vegetables and fruits have been stranded at Bhithamor Custom’s point of Mahottari due strikes called by various Madhesi parties. According to Dhruba Shah, president of the Onion and Potato Traders Association, around 20 truck-loads of onion and potato, among other fruits and vegetables, have been stuck at the customs point. He said the market could face a shortage of essential items if the road does not reopen on time. Prices of potato and onion have already started to rise. Onion that used to cost Rs50 now costs Rs80 per kg.
The market receives onion and potato from Kanpur and Kanouj of India.
Meanwhile, Shiva Shankar Shah, president of Janakpur Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said they were trying to negotiate with the agitating parties to ease the supply.

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