KATHMANDU, Feb 3: The retail price of dry garlic imported from China climbed to a record high of Rs 560 per kilogram in the domestic market Sunday as imports from China have stopped since the past two weeks following a coronavirus outbreak in China.
According to the Kalimati Fruits and Vegetable Market Development Board, the price of dry garlic has doubled in two weeks. The price was Rs 250 per kg on January 14 and it has been steadily rising since then.
Figures provided by the board show that the price of dry garlic spiked to Rs 330 per kg on January 16 from the previous day’s Rs 290.
The coronavirus outbreak is the main reason behind the price rise, according to Binaya Shrestha, deputy director of the board.
“Garlic is imported from China. Everyone is aware of the outbreak, which has prompted a closure of border with Nepal. Since the supply has stopped, importers have hiked the prices of their stocks,” said Shrestha.
He said that the country relies on imported garlic during this time of year, which is considered an off-season as the domestic stocks run out.
The board’s figures show that Nepal imported 203 tons of garlic between mid-December last year and mid-January. But, between January 15 and February 2 total imports stood at 98 tons, according to the board’s data.
The surge in the price of dry garlic comes after a similar rise in the price of onion a few weeks ago following a restriction on exports by India, the main supplier of onion to Nepal. The price of onion reached a record high of Rs 230 per kg on November 27 last year. However, the price has been falling after India relaxed its export restriction on onions.
Retailers say they have observed adjustments on consumption patterns in line with the hike in the prices of vegetables and spices.
“After onions, the garlic price has gone up. This has affected my business as these two spices are much sought in the Nepali kitchen,” said Ruby Karki, owner of a vegetable shop at Koteshwar, Kathmandu. “My customers are buying more onions than garlic these days,” she added.
Amid concerns about the artificial shortage and price rise, government officials say that they will intensify market monitoring.
“The doubling of garlic price in just two weeks has left us shocked. There must be some stock of garlic with importers and we are planning to carrying out market inspection,” Netra Prasad Subedi, director general of Department of Commerce Supplies and Consumer Protection, told Republica. “Importers cite border closure to the price hike. We have deployed our teams to monitor the market,” he added.