Vegetable prices tumble on pesticide scare

Kathmandu
Vegetable prices tumble on pesticide scare

Jul 28, 2014-

Vegetable prices have tumbled over the last one week in the Kathmandu valley as reports of produce being contaminated with pesticide residues kept customers away. Wholesale and retail prices are down 50 percent with traders reporting plunging sales due to the pesticide scare.

Last week, the Rapid Pesticide Residue Analysis Lab found 97.17 percent residues of pesticides in the cowpea being sold at the Kalimati Fruit and Vegetable Market, the largest vegetable bazaar in the country. Lab tests showed that 26 of the 187 samples examined contained a high degree of residues of pesticides making them inedible. Vegetables including tomato, chilli, cauliflower, egg plant, potato, cowpea and bottle gourd were found to contain 45 percent pesticide residues. Experts said such vegetables were not fit for consumption.

The findings set off a public scare, and seasonal vegetables like cowpea, egg plant, capsicum, cabbage, carrot, ladies finger, bottle gourd and smooth gourd have become cheaper over a week. Cowpea now costs Rs 45-50 per kg, down from Rs 70 per kg a week ago. Capsicum has dropped to Rs 40 per kg from Rs 60-65 while smooth gourd costs Rs 15 to Rs 20 per kg compared to Rs 40 per kg before.

Retail prices of carrot have plunged to Rs 60 to Rs 70 against Rs 80 to Rs 90 a week ago. Bottle gourd, which cost Rs 30 per kg a month ago, now costs Rs 20. Similarly, cabbage has decreased to Rs 31 per kg from Rs 38 last week. However, tomato prices have surged over a week. Big and small tomatoes now cost Rs 48 and Rs 45 per kg respectively against Rs 32 and 33 a week ago.

Sarita Magar, a retailer at Gyaneshwor, said demand had slowed as customers have been buying less vegetables due to fear of pesticides. She complained that she had been forced to sell some vegetables at a loss as they were highly perishable.

“Sales of cowpea, capsicum and bottle gourd have dropped by almost half in the last two days, so it’s better to clear my stocks by slashing prices,” she said.

Wholesalers also have similar complaints. Raju Ghimire, a wholesaler at the Ichhumati Vegetables Market, Bag Bazaar, said retailers were buying less stock.

Meanwhile, traders have been complaining they have been unnecessarily targeted as they are not users of pesticides. Some sellers reported tainted vegetables had been moved to other markets to escape government scrutiny which has been concentrated at Kalimati.

Published: 29-07-2014 09:23

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