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Vegetable price hikes in Ktm gets PMO’s attention

- Post Report, Kathmandu
The PMO suspects that middlemen, who purchase products from farmers and sell them to wholesalers, are involved in inflating the prices of vegetables

Nov 13, 2017-The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), on Sunday directed the Ministry of Agriculture Development (MoAD) and District Administration Offices and other concerned government offices to step-up market monitoring to contain runaway vegetable prices in Kathmandu.

The PMO issued the directive to prevent consumers from falling victim to malpractices of traders involved in rampant price hike of agricultural products. The PMO suspects that middlemen, who purchase products from farmers and sell them to wholesalers, are involved in inflating the prices of vegetables. 

In a press statement issued by the PMO, the MoAD has been asked to come up with measures to stabilise soaring vegetable prices. The Revenue Investigation Department and Inland Revenue Department have also been asked to conduct an investigation into activities of the middlemen.

Vegetable prices in the Valley have skyrocketed since Tihar. Earlier, the short supply of agro products was blamed for the price hike. But lately middlemen are said to be artificially inflating prices.

As per the record of Kalimati Fruits and Vegetable Market Development Board—one of the main vegetable supplying bodies in the Valley—the price of agro products 

in the last two weeks has escalated by up to 53 percent while the supply has gone down by 17 percent. Over the period, a number of vegetables have seen price hikes of up to Rs40 per kg, shows the board’s record.

The rampant hike in vegetable price on Sunday drew the attention of the PMO as well. The multilateral meeting led by PMO Secretary Mahendra Man Gurung involved representatives from the board, MoAD, Home Ministry, consumer rights activists and Department of Supplies Management (DoSM). During the meeting, a number of the participants opined for the need of effective market inspection to monitor the soaring prices. 

“Most of the participants blamed the vegetable supplier cartel for the current exorbitant prices rather than the short supply,” PMO Spokesperson Hari Prasad Panthi said. “The PMO has asked the concerned to conduct effective monitoring along with studying on the root cause of the price hike and report to the PMO as soon as possible,” Panthi said. 

During the meeting, DoSM officials said that the department had started early morning market inspections. “Most of the suppliers have been found to round up the supplied vegetables between 2 to 5 am daily just to fix the cartel price of the agro products,” Panthi said.

   According to DoSM officials, the brokers were found to be increasing the vegetables prices up to 400 percent when it conducted an inspection at mid-night last Friday. 

“The department has started inspections early in morning to coincide with the time when vegetable supply arrives at Kalimati market,” said a DoSM source adding that the department is planning to conduct similar inspections at vegetable farms such as Paachkhal of Kavrepalanchok and Dharke of Dhading district. “It could help reveal price variations between the production level and the market,” the source said, speaking under condition of anonymity.  

Published: 13-11-2017 09:00

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