Money

Fresh veggie prices double in past year

- Post Report

May 30, 2018-

Vegetable prices in the Kathmandu Valley doubled in the past year due to soaring demand amid a drop in domestic production.

Prices of off-season vegetables doubled while seasonal vegetable prices jumped more than 30 percent. Some vegetables have become so dear they are beyond the reach of many consumers, a shopper at the Kalimati market said.  

“Price fluctuations are normal in the vegetable market,” said Binaya Shrestha, deputy director at the Kalimati Fruits and Vegetables Market. “Some vegetables such as tomato and potato are always in demand, but local production cannot fulfil it.”

Demand for vegetables is also seasonal, so prices are always changing according to supply and demand. Likewise, import prices are not fixed, which is one of the main reasons for the price fluctuation. Green vegetable prices generally rise in May as farmers prepare their fields for paddy cultivation. Prices go up sharply as supply plunges compared to demand.

Most popular vegetables such as tomato, potato, onion, carrot, cauliflower, bitter gourd, mushroom, cabbage, eggplant and pointed gourd have become dearer. The price of white potato has shot up 131.25 percent to Rs37 per kg in the retail market, compared to Rs16 a year ago. Similarly, cabbage has become dearer by Rs40, a steep climb of 266.66 percent.

The Kalimati Fruits and Vegetables Market said that low domestic production had put pressure on vegetable prices, but consumers blame the involvement of middlemen in the vegetable trade as the main reason for the price hike.

“The reason is middlemen,” said Bhanu Bhakta Poudel, a vegetable buyer at the Kalimati market. For example, the farm gate price of potato is Rs15-18 per kg. It doubles to Rs37 per kg by the time it reaches the market because farmers do not have direct access to the market.

Poudel added that bottle gourd, which is one of the cheapest vegetables, used to cost Rs50 per kg three months ago but now costs Rs75 per kg.

According to the Kalimati market, one of the largest vegetable bazaars in the country, the

government’s crackdown on transportation syndicates coupled with intensified market inspection has pushed down vegetable prices to some extent. However, there are still many middlemen involved in the business that makes farm products expensive.

“Although we are an agriculture-oriented country, we are compelled to pay high prices for food,” said Bam Dev Singh, another vegetable buyer.

“The government has to make efforts to make prices reasonable,” said Singh, a retired civil servant.

According to Nepal Rastra Bank, consumer inflation rose to 5.3 percent in mid-April from 3.8 percent a year ago. The central bank said that a rise in prices of vegetables and other edible items led to slightly higher inflation compared to last year.

The Kalimati Fruits and Vegetables Market supplies 600-700 tonnes of vegetables daily.

VEGETABLE PRICES COMPARED (per kg)

Commodity     2017    2018     Change (in %)

    (May 29)     (May 29)

Tomato    Rs42    Rs55    30.95

Potato red    Rs21    Rs45    114.28

Potato white    Rs16    Rs37    131.25

Onion    Rs21    Rs37    76.19

Carrot    Rs49    Rs62    26.53

Cauliflower Local    Rs50    Rs65    30

Bitter gourd    Rs34    Rs55    61.76

Mushroom    Rs145    Rs210    44.82

Cabbage    Rs15    Rs55    266.66

Eggplant    Rs27    Rs55    103.7

Pointed gourd    Rs38    Rs62    63.15

(Source: Kalimati Fruits and Vegetables Market)

Published: 30-05-2018 08:39

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