KATHMANDU, March 28: The prices of vegetables in the Kathmandu Valley have skyrocketed in the past few days, in the pretext of decreased supply with the ongoing nationwide lockdown.
The retail prices of main vegetables have soared to more than double compared to the prices before the launch of the lockdown. During the period, retail price of cauliflower increased to Rs 90 per kg from Rs 45 per kg, price of red potato increased to Rs 54 per kg from Rs 40 and price of small tomato increased to Rs 110 per kg from Rs 50. Similarly, the cost of green peas went up to Rs 120 per kg from Rs 80, radish increased to Rs 60 per kg from Rs 30 and that of leafy vegetable also doubled to Rs 180 per kg.
Targeting to restrict the people's movement at the wake of widespread outbreak of COVID-19 disease, the government since Tuesday has imposed a week-long lockdown across the country. Similarly, the Indian government has also put into effect, a similar lockdown in India for 21 days, starting from last Wednesday.
Despite the government's claim to maintaining smooth supply of the essentials even during the lockdown, some flaws in mechanism--mostly lack of coordination among the government authorities—have led to shortfall of goods in the market. As a result, many unscrupulous traders intend to cater it as an opportunity to hike the market prices.
According to the Kalimati Fruits and Vegetable Market Development Board, the market on Thursday received 233 tons of fresh vegetables. In normal days, the largest vegetable hub for the valley supplies more than 600 tons of vegetables daily. “However, the prices have not varied by much in Kalimati market in recent days compared to the prices before the lockdown was started,” said Binay Shrestha, deputy general manager of the board.
Despite the board's claim, the market prices have been hiked excessively as majority of the stores remain shut most of the time, according to the traders. Although the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Supplies had announced that it would allow the groceries selling daily necessities to run throughout the day, the security officials are found to be forcing the shops to close at the earliest.
Narendra Maharjan, a shopkeeper in Lazimpat, said that the vegetable prices have been up due to shrink in supply to the retail shops. “We are unable to ply our vehicles to fetch the daily essentials due to unclear rules imposed by the authorities,” said Maharjan. According to him, they were facing difficulties in buying vegetables as most of the markets run only for few hours early in the morning.