KATHMANDU, August 25: The price of tomato in the Kathmandu Valley has hit the roof due to low supply from the farms, traders say.
But this is not the only reason. Retailers have been found keeping high profit on potato. The wholesale price of big and small tomato was Rs 98 and Rs 52 per kg, respectively, on Thursday. But a snap survey conducted by Republica showed that average retail price of big and small tomato in different parts of the valley was Rs 130 and Rs 90, respectively, on Thursday. It is not the demand-supply situation, but retailers who fix price of tomato in the market.
Retailers are fixing price in an arbitrary manner as market monitors rarely inspect vegetables market. Yashoda Rai, a vegetable retailer, told Republica on Thursday that she has never seen market inspectors at her retail store. “We do add some profit margin as we pay house rent and transportation cost,” she said, adding: “But price would have been the same in all retail shops had the government conducted regular monitoring.”
Suresh Pradhan of Bhainsepati-based Aslesha Agro Farm said that farmers do not get good price for their produce. “We are paid almost the same price for tomato throughout the year, while traders keep big profit margin citing off-season,” he said, adding: “We are not getting good price even though we produce organic products.”
Aslesha Agro farm has been selling big tomato at Rs 70-75 per kg, according to Pradhan.
Bhimsen Raj Bharati, a wholesaler at Kalimati Fruits and Vegetables Market, said price of big tomato is high as it is usually imported from India. “The price has increased in the Nepali market as price of tomato has increased in India itself. Also, we have to add transportation cost,” he added.
Vegetable production generally falls in the monsoon which directly affects its prices.
Kiran Kumar Sah, a Kalimati-based retailer, says retailer like her buy less quantity of vegetables and try to make maximum profit. “We have to pay high rent and transportation cost. Also, we have to set aside certain percent of profit to compensate for loss as vegetables are highly perishable,” she said, adding, “We will have to face huge loss if all the vegetable are not sold out in a day.”
Binaya Shrestha, deputy director of Kalimati Fruits and Vegetable Market Development Board (KFVMDB), said that the retailers can keep profit margin of up to 20 percent. But there is no mechanism to monitor vegetables prices in the market.