Veggies may get dearer due to India export prices

- POST REPORT, Kathmandu
Veggies may get dearer due to India export prices

Jun 30, 2014-

India has set the minimum export price (MEP) for potatoes and onions at $ 450 and $ 300 per tonne respectively raising concerns that local prices could increase in the midst of the rice planting season when vegetable production is reduced, said traders. Wholesale prices for onions are expected to reach Rs 90 per kg while potatoes could cost up to Rs 50 per kg.

According to the Kalimati Fruits and Vegetables Market Development Board, wholesale prices of onions hit Rs 41-45 per kg each on Monday, up from Rs 35 a week ago. Likewise, potatoes jumped to Rs 40 per kg wholesale from Rs 30 last week. Retail prices are usually 15-20 percent higher.

“We expect a shortage of onions considering the current import trend from India,” said Ujjwal Karki, a wholesaler at the Kalimati market, the country’s biggest vegetable bulk bazaar. Potato prices normally shoot up during the rainy season as local requirements are fulfilled by imports from India where stocks are kept in cool stores for the off season.

According to Indian media reports, the MEP is part of the Indian government’s effort to curb exports and rein in food prices in a bid to increase domestic stocks and cool prices. Potato prices have risen to about Rs 25-30 per kg in India.

Binay Shrestha, senior planning officer at the board, said that onion and potato prices had started increasing following India’s move to restrict exports. “Besides, Nepal has been totally dependent on imported potatoes during the monsoon.”

Prices are already on the high side, and the MEP will make these farm products even more expensive in the Nepali market, Shrestha added.

Deependra Shrestha, another wholesaler at the Kalimati market, said that a prolonged drought in India had hit potato and onion output leading to a shortage in Nepal too. He added that prices of these two important household produce had soared in India too.  

Domestic potato production meets only 40 percent of Nepal’s requirement while it is totally dependent on onions shipped from India, Shrestha said.  

According to the Ministry of Agricultural Development, Nepal imported 228,908 tonnes of potatoes worth Rs 3.12 billion in the last fiscal year with India accounting for 225,028 tonnes valued at Rs 3.06 billion of the total imports.

The country also imported 3,688 tonnes of potato seeds valued at Rs 50 million.

Meanwhile, onion imports stood at 94, 609 tonnes worth Rs 1.85 billion in the last fiscal year. India is the largest exporter of onions to Nepal with total shipments amounting to 94,530 tonnes worth Rs 1.84 billion. Onion imports from China stood at 78 tonnes worth Rs 7.58 million.

Nepal’s annual potato output is expected to grow by a meagre 0.3 percent to 2.69 million tonnes this year.

Published: 01-07-2014 09:24

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