Prices of imported agro products rise

- POST REPORT, Kathmandu
Prices of imported agro products rise

Jan 7, 2015-

Prices of imported edible products have risen due to a stronger dollar while local farm products have become cheaper, traders said. Pulses and edible oil most of which Nepal buys from foreign countries have become dearer by up to Rs 15 per kg in the Kathmandu valley.

Prices of mung bean, yellow lentils, red lentils and gram have increased by up to Rs 10 per kg. Traders said that this was the third price increase in the last five months. Last November, prices of various pulses had increased by up to Rs 30 per kg.

Meanwhile, rice, beaten rice and sugar have become cheaper due to advent of the harvest season. The retail price of Jeera Mansuli rice dropped to Rs 55 per kg from Rs 60 a few days ago. Sona Mansuli rice fell to Rs 50 per kg from Rs 56, while Taichin beaten rice costs Rs 105 per kg, down from Rs 115. Sugar has lost Rs 3 per kg and now costs Rs 62 per kg.

Wheat flour has seen a marginal rise of Rs 2 per kg and now costs Rs 44 per kg. The price rose with the start of the wheat planting season.

“As many agro commodities are imported, an appreciation of the US dollar against the Nepali rupee has made them expensive in the domestic market,” said Manish Kumar Agrawal, executive member of the Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FNCCI).

“Due to this reason, we have no option but to pass on the burden of increased prices to consumers,” added Agrawal who is also one of the major importers of palm oil and pulses.

Nepal imports pulses from Canada, Australia, Myanmar and Vietnam. Similarly, Indonesia, Argentina, Ukraine and Malaysia are the major exporters of edible oil to Nepal. Agrawal said that unless domestic farm production can be boosted, the country’s dependency on imports would keep swelling.

Meanwhile, consumer rights activists blamed the frequent price hikes on the existence of syndicates. “As there is no stringent law to control market prices, opportunist traders raise prices whenever they want to,” said consumer rights activist Prem Lal Maharjan.

“They may attribute the price hike to the appreciation of the US dollar, but in practice prices don’t drop even when the US dollar depreciates. Moreover, the government’s market monitoring units only focus on the price list and the quality of the stock, and they disregard price hikes.

Pabitra Man Bajracharya, president of the Retailers Association of Nepal, said retailers don’t know how and when prices rise. “As prices are fixed by wholesalers, we are not aware of why prices rise frequently,” he said.

Published: 08-01-2015 09:39

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