Vegetable prices nearly double to record highs

Published On: May 18, 2019 07:26 AM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

KATHMANDU, May 18: The prices of essential vegetables have spiked and a few of them have doubled over the last one month, according to a comparative analysis of retail prices at Kalimati vegetable market.

Authorities and vegetable traders blame low internal production of items like tomatoes, coupled with erratic supply from India due to the general election there for the spike in prices, while consumer rights groups say cartels are at work.

Tomatoes both large and small have almost doubled in price to Rs 115 and Rs 105 from Rs 65 and Rs 55 per kg respectively. The prices of others vegetables such as cauliflower and broccoli have also increased significantly.

Officials of Kalimati Fruits and Vegetable Market Development Board, the authority that oversees the Kalimati market, say that prices of some vegetables produced internally soared due to low harvest caused by high winds and hailstorms in recent months. Binay Shrestha, director at the board, said, “The prices soared because the internal production is down and the supply from India has become irregular because of the general election there.”

Bharat Khatiwada, a wholesaler at the Kalimati market, said the price of imported vegetables has soared whereas that of local produce remains low.

But consumer rights groups say there has been no substantial change on the supply side and it is the traders who manipulate the market. Things don't return to normal even when there are no major fluctuations in production and supply, they added.

“I don't see any reason for the prices to become exorbitant. It is the traders who tend to keep the prices high through cartels as there is no regulating agency to fear,” said Bishnu Prashad Timilsina, general secretary of Consumer Welfare Protection Forum Nepal.

Khatiwada denied such charges and said everything is down to the law of supply and demand. Timilsina, however, does not agree. He argued that there has been no change in prices at the points of origin nor in the transportation costs.

“Farmers have also not received any additional payments despite the price increments and all this is because of lack of monitoring,” added Timilsina.

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