Onion sales drop with prices hitting highs

- SUMAN BASHYAL, Kathmandu
Small hotels and retailers have also stopped serving complimentary onions with their main dishes due to the high prices

Sep 2, 2015-Onion sales have dropped as consumers seem to be shunning the vegetable due to its skyrocketing prices, traders said. Prompted by the fall in demand, retailers have slashed shipments from wholesalers.

Small hotels and retailers have also stopped serving complimentary onions with their main dishes due to the high prices. Although the Tarai banda has hampered onion supplies for the past two weeks, wholesalers say they have been able to fulfil orders from retailers.

“Prices have jumped so high that regular customers who used to buy 1 kg of onions are buying only half of that nowadays. Hotels and restaurants are also buying less,” said Bhola Khadka, a vegetable vendor at Ratopool.

Retailers are presently selling onions at Rs120 to Rs130 per kg in various markets of the valley. “Rising prices have not only affected consumers but sellers like us too as potential buyers ask the price and walk away even though we have slashed our mark-up,” said Khadka.

On Tuesday, onions were being sold for Rs105 per kg at the Kalimati Fruits and Vegetables Market, one of the largest wholesale vegetable markets in the valley. Over the past one and a half months, onion prices have soared 145 percent. The vegetable cost Rs42 per kg on July 15.

Sumitra Budhathoki, a resident of Battisputali, said, “I am using less onions in my cooking although they are a major ingredient because they cost so much these days.” She complained that the government was doing nothing towards import substitution.

“Every year, we are hit by price hikes during this time, but the government has not taken any measures to increase production in the country,” she said. According to traders, 95 percent of the onions sold in the valley are imported from India, and a rise in prices there has affected the domestic market.

Dipendra Shrestha, an onion wholesaler at Kalimati, said, “We have to pay Rs2,400 for a 40-kg sack of onions compared to Rs1,000 to Rs1,100 one and a half months ago. So retailers are also buying less from us.”

Meanwhile, traders said that onion shipments had also dropped due to the Tarai banda. According to Shrestha, only one to two truckloads of onions are arriving daily against the usual supply of five-six truckloads.

With no sign of prices falling anytime soon, traders are planning to import Chinese onions. “If we could bring Chinese onions to the market, prices would decrease to some extent; but the Tarai banda has been affecting supply,” said Shrestha.

However, transporting onions from China will be difficult because two main trade routes, Tatopani and Rasuwagadhi, have been cut off since the April 25 earthquake.

Published: 02-09-2015 09:17

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