Tomato prices soar as rains hit supply

- SUMAN BASHYAL, Kathmandu
Tomato prices soar as rains hit supply

Aug 24, 2014-

Tomato prices have risen steeply in the Kathmandu valley due to reduced supplies triggered by incessant rain in many parts of the country. Prices have jumped nearly threefold in the past two months in the wholesale market.

Small tomatoes which cost Rs 17 per kg two months ago now cost Rs 53 per kg at the Kalimati Wholesale Market. On Sunday, big tomato was priced at Rs 57 per kg against Rs 22 two months ago. Local vendors are selling tomatoes for Rs 65-70 per kg against Rs 30-35 per kg a month ago.

One and a half months ago, tomato farmers had vented their anger at the then low prices by dumping several truckloads of tomatoes on the streets of Kathmandu.

Binay Shrestha, senior planning officer at Kalimati Fruits and Vegetables Market Development Board (KFVMDB) said that low supplies and rising demand contributed to the price rise in the market.

“There has been a substantial drop in supplies from many areas these days when demand has started to rise due to the start of the festival season like Teej,” he said.

According to traders, around 12-14 truckloads of tomatoes are arriving at the Kalimati market against 20 truckloads earlier.

Similarly, Bharat Khatiwada, a wholesaler at the Kalimati Vegetable and Fruit Market, said, “Tomato supplies have gone down around 25 percent since last week,” he said. “We are not receiving tomatoes from Dhading and Kavre and many areas in the valley as the crops were damaged by incessant rain.”

According to Khatiwada, the farmers who are doing tunnel farming in Kathmandu, Bhaktapur and Lalitpur districts are sending their produce to other cities like Pokhara, Biratnagar, Narayanghat and Butwal as they are getting better prices there.

“Tomato prices are higher in other places too, and they are unlikely to come down until new harvests from other areas arrive in the market,” said Khatiwada.

Meanwhile, farmers are happy at the soaring prices. “We are happy that we are now getting profits from our crops,” said Khoj Raj Katuwal, president of the Nepal Tunnel Farmers’ Association. “We were compelled to sell our produce for Rs 15-18 per kg till last month, but the rising prices have come as a relief to many farmers.”

Katuwal said that prices could go up further in the coming days as production has been severely hit in some areas by a plant disease. According to him, around 15 farms in the valley have been affected by the disease.

Published: 25-08-2014 09:53

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