Money

Vegetable prices jump up to 66 percent after seeing steep fall

- KRISHANA PRASAIN, Kathmandu

Mar 16, 2019-

Vegetable prices leapt up to 66 percent in mid-March after falling by double digits last month, largely due to extended cold weather that delayed harvests and reduced supplies in the market.

According to Nepal Rastra Bank statistics, vegetable prices in mid-February dropped 11.7 percent year-on-year. The bank said that food and beverage inflation stood at 2.5 percent in mid-February compared to 4.0 percent a year ago, largely as a result of the drop in vegetable prices.

This month has been painful for customers as prices of most vegetables have spiked. According to the Kalimati Fruits and Vegetables Market, the average retail price of tomato (small) surged 66 percent to Rs75 per kg. Tomato (big) costs Rs75 per kg, up 15.38 percent from two weeks ago.

Likewise, potato (red) increased 18.42 percent to Rs45 per kg while onion prices jumped 18.42 percent to Rs45 per kg in the retail market. Cauliflower (local) was selling for Rs45 per kg on Friday, up 28.57 percent compared to the price two weeks ago. The price of peas increased 30.77 percent to Rs85 per kg.

Vegetable traders said that most vegetables became dearer due to frequent weather related supply disruptions during the winter as the cold weather delayed harvests and reduced supplies. They said that a wet spring also affected the vegetable growth and supply window. Vegetable consumption normally increases during the spring season.

Vegetable prices are expected to fall from March-end as farmers in the Tarai region bring in fresh harvests, said Binay Shrestha, deputy general manager of the Kalimati Fruits and Vegetable Market Development Board. According to Shrestha, the average retail price of vegetables will not go up further. “It will take a few weeks for the arrival of fresh vegetables from the Tarai,” he said.  

Resham Tamang, administrator of the Balkhu Agriculture Vegetables Market, said that extended cold weather in March delayed harvests which resulted in prices rising in the market due to lowered supply. Farmers have started producing off-seasonal vegetables, but output falls short of demand, said Tamang. Most of the farmers in Lalbandi, Chitwan and Nawalparasi have started commercial farming of off-seasonal vegetables, he said.

Traders said that bitter gourd, okra, green chilli and jackfruit were currently being imported from India. Vegetables like onion and tomato are all imported from India during this time of the year when the country’s production falls short of demand, he said.

The Balkhu market supplies 600 tonnes of vegetables and the Kalimati market supplies 700 tonnes of vegetables daily. According to Nepal Rastra Bank statistics, Nepal imported vegetables worth Rs9.29 billion in the first seven months of the current fiscal year from India. This represents a 34.7 percent increase year-on-year.

Published: 16-03-2019 10:02

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