Angry vegetable traders manhandle inspection teamTension ran high at Kalimati Fruits and Vegetables Market on Monday after a group of vegetable dealers manhandled members of a government team that was on an inspection visit amid widespread concerns over hefty rise in vegetable prices.
Tension ran high at Kalimati Fruits and Vegetables Market on Monday after a group of vegetable dealers manhandled members of a government team that was on an inspection visit amid widespread concerns over hefty rise in vegetable prices.
Vegetable traders said prices had jumped disproportionately due to reduction in direct sales from producers to consumers and the growing involvement of middlemen in the trade. As the middlemen enjoy high-profit margins, consumers are forced to bear the brunt, they said.
But vegetable sellers turned violent after the inspection team seized two trucks loaded with vegetables on charge of supplying farm products without any invoice. The inspection team led by Deepak Pokharel, monitoring officer at the Department of Supplies Management, called police for help as it was encircled by angry traders. Minister for Industry, Commerce and Supplies Matrika Prasad Yadav and Commerce Secretary Chandra Ghimire also reached the market.
Police detained Bharat Prasad Khatiwada, general secretary of the Federation of Fruit and Vegetable Entrepreneurs, Nepal, and vegetable trader Bimal Dhungana on the charge of manhandling government officials.
Prices of seasonal vegetables have increased by up to 30 percent over the past one month, while that of off-seasonal vegetables have shot up by 40-50 percent due to the involvement of middlemen, the consumer rights activists said. A recent field study carried out by the department revealed that farmers in Makwanpur and Dhading districts have been receiving a farm gate price of Rs25-35 per kg while traders are selling the produce charging up to Rs125 per kg in the Valley.
During a market inspection last year, the department team had found the traders manipulating the vegetable prices. They were selling lady finger at Rs75 per kg which they purchased from farmers at Rs11.50 per kg.
On Monday, the inspection team handed over the trucks that failed to produce the invoice to police.
President of the Consumers Rights Investigation Forum Madhav Timilsina, who is also a member of the inspection team, said the angry traders locked the main entrance gate of the Kalimati market after the team started inspection there. “As the situation went out of control, we were forced to take shelter at the office of Kalimati Fruits and Vegetables Market Development Board,” Timilsina said. Meanwhile in a statement released on Monday, the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Supplies has reiterated its commitment to end the cartel in vegetable business. “The authority is set to curb on the middleman to address the huge gap in farmers’ price and consumers’ price of the farm products,” the ministry said.