Vegetable prices double in Biratnagar

- Binod Bhandari, BIRATNAGAR

Aug 12, 2017-

Prices of vegetables have doubled in the eastern Nepali city of Biratnagar due to heavy rainfall, which has inundated most of the vegetable fields. Most of the vegetables available in markets of Biratnagar are grown in Morang’s Kathari and Sunsari’s Harinagar, Kaptangunj and other villages and towns located near Nepal-India border point.

But rain has submerged most of the vegetable fields, which has reduced supply. This has forced Biratnagar to increase imports of the green produce, but because of rain imports too have fallen. This has led to rampant hike in price. 

Potato, for instance, now costs Rs50 per kg. It’s price stood at Rs25 a week ago. Tomato, another staple, these days cannot be fetched for less than Rs70 per kg. This vegetable used to cost Rs35 per kg a week ago. This is the same with cucumber, which now costs Rs70 per kg, up from Rs30 a week ago. Prices of other vegetables, like ladyfinger, onion and sponge gourd have also more than doubled lately.

Pawan Bhagat, a wholesaler at Gudari vegetable market, said prices of vegetables have gone up sharply because Biratnagar now has to rely on imports. Vegetables are imported to Gudari market from Dhankuta’s Hile, Sidhuwa and western region’s Palung. Onions are imported from India, while potatoes are imported from Bhutan. 

“Vegetables are quite expensive in those places from where we import the green produces. Once transportation costs are added, vegetables become even more expensive,”Bhagat said. “In the case of onion, the price is quite high in India from where we import the produce.”

Biratnagar’s Gudari vegetable market has 12 different wholesale outlets. These outlets have not been able to meet 30 percent of the market demand, while vegetable supplied by Katahari in Morang and southern areas of Sunsari, which are now inundated, do not cater to 20 percent of the demand.

Demand for green vegetables, excluding potato and onion, hovers around 25 tonnes per day. But supply has been restricted to less than half of the demand at this time of the year. 

“Prices are going up because of this supply-demand mismatch,”said Bhagat.

Rise in vegetable prices has gradually started hitting household budget and burning a hole in consumers’pockets.

“Vegetables worth Rs500 are not even enough for three meals,”said Renuka Thapa, a housewife who had arrived at the Gudari vegetable market to purchase the green produce. Earlier, Rs500 used to fetch enough vegetables for a week, Thapa added. “It’s now cheap to consume chicken rather than vegetables.”

Published: 12-08-2017 08:18

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