KATHMANDU, Sept 8: Vegetable prices have remained constant in the Kathmandu Valley for the past one month, despite expectations that frequent inspection and monitoring by the government would bring it down.
It has been three months since the Minister for Agriculture and Livestock Development, Chakra Pani Khanal, first inspected the Kalimati fruits and vegetable market for pricing and other irregularities. It has also been almost three weeks after the Department of Commerce, Supply, and Protection of Consumers conducted market monitoring at the fruits and vegetable markets in Kalimati and Balkhu.
A snap market survey by Republica on Friday showed that price of tomato was Rs 65 per kilogram, while the price of potato was Rs 68. Likewise, price of onion was Rs 48 per kilogram, carrot Rs 190, cabbage Rs 65, local cauliflower Rs 105, green beans Rs 85, and lady's finger Rs 65. Likewise, lemon sold for Rs 275 per kilogram, red chilly for Rs 290, green chilly for Rs 75, capsicum for Rs 85, Chinese garlic for Rs 175, and Nepali garlic for Rs 140.
The ministry, in cooperation with Kalimati Fruits and Vegetable Market Development Board, had inspected the market in an effort to take action against the traders' cartel that kept vegetable prices high. But the traders protested and filed a case against the board. After that, the department had also conducted market monitoring at both the Kalimati and Balkhu markets.
After the inspections, Kalimati Fruits and Vegetable Market Development Board has scrapped license of six traders who were found leasing out their stalls to third parties. Investigations are going on for other traders.
"The next board meeting will take decision for remaining 92 traders who were found to be leasing their stalls on rent to other parties," said Tejendera Prasad Poudel, executive director of the board. "The board has sought clarification from 98 traders who were classified into red category. But six traders chose not to give any clarification, so the board scrapped their license."
The supplies department, in its market monitoring report, has recommended the agriculture minister to sort out the traders' issues as soon as possible and make a new policy about fixing vegetable prices. The department has also recommended building cold stores at vegetable markets, so that the traders are saved from losses due to vegetable decay, which will help maintain vegetable prices constant during all seasons.
Likewise, the report also recommended the board to ensure refrigerating technology in vehicles carrying vegetables, and oversee the overall transportation of vegetable from the farms to the market.