Officials swoop on Balkhu veggie marketOfficials of the Department of Supply Management and Protection of Consumers Interest swooped on the Balkhu Fruits and Vegetables Market on Monday in a crackdown on cartels in the vegetable business.
Officials of the Department of Supply Management and Protection of Consumers Interest swooped on the Balkhu Fruits and Vegetables Market on Monday in a crackdown on cartels in the vegetable business.
During the inspection, the regulator found that many vegetable traders were not issuing bills of sale as required by law. The department asked a number of traders to appear with appropriate clarification on suspicion of running a cartel.
The Balkhu Fruits and Vegetables Market is the second largest supplier of farm products in the Kathmandu Valley after the government-owned Kalimati market. Kalimati fulfils around 70 percent of the Valley’s daily requirement of 1,000 tonnes of vegetables while the privately run market in Balkhu supplies the rest.
Department officials arrived at the Balkhu market at 4am when most of the vegetable shipments are delivered. A trader Rabi Sah who tried to obstruct the government team from conducting the inspection was turned over to the police.
Deepak Pokharel, monitoring officer at the department and leader of the inspection team, said many traders failed to produce invoices. “Their excuse was that vegetable prices are fixed only in the late morning when the shipments arrive,” said Pokharel. He added that the department had called the chairman of the Balkhu market and a number of traders to provide an explanation for not having invoices.
Last week, the department conducted an inspection at the Kalimati market and uncovered various improper practices at the country’s largest vegetable market. The investigation revealed that a syndicate of middlemen had a total grip on the supply chain, resulting in high prices for consumers and low returns for farmers.
The inspection also revealed that 98 stalls in the Kalimati market were being illegally operated by sub-lessees. The Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Supplies has taken over the investigation and formed a task force to clean up the Kalimati market.
Pokharel claimed that vegetable prices had come down significantly following intervention by the department. According to him, the department will check other major vegetable suppliers in the Valley in order to stamp out syndicates decisively.