Government to zero in on vegetable price anomaliesThe Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Supplies has undertaken the task of preparing a new report that will help zero in on the price anomalies in vegetables and regulate the vegetable market. Government officials say the report is likely to be finalised by Sunday.
The Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Supplies has undertaken the task of preparing a new report that will help zero in on the price anomalies in vegetables and regulate the vegetable market. Government officials say the report is likely to be finalised by Sunday.
Expressing its commitment to end the price abnormalities, mainly at the Kalimati vegetables market, which is the largest government-owned outlet that supplies vegetables in the Kathmandu Valley, the ministry last week formed a committee to study the malpractices that are widespread in the market.
The government’s decision to look into the matter came into effect after a group of vegetable dealers manhandled members of a government team that were inspecting the market a last week.
The Joint-Secretary of the Ministry Navaraj Dhakal said they are now talking to farmers, traders and Kalimati Fruits and Vegetables Market Development Board (KFVMDB) officials regarding the matter. “After completing the field-based study, we will be submitting the report to the ministry,” Dhakal said.
The data gathered in the preliminary study carried out by the Department of Supply Management and Protection of Consumers Interest show that the prices of seasonal vegetables have increased by up to 30 percent over the last month, while that of off-seasonal vegetables have shot up by 40-50 percent. The data also shows how the involvement of middlemen has hiked the prices of vegetables by a large margin. For example, a field study carried out by the department in Makwanpur and Dhading districts last month showed that farmers received only Rs25-35 per kg for vegetables that traders sold at Rs125 per kg in the Valley.
The study’s progress so far shows that the main reason behind this rise in the price of farm products is the rising monopoly of the middlemen. The market is largely dominated by them, and they can be found bribing government officials at Kalimati Fruits and Vegetable Market Development Board (KFVMDB) to use the best selling outlets at the Kalimati market area.
According to sources, middlemen also influence the board of the government entity. The government statute requires the involvement of three representatives, each from the traders’ side and the farmers’ side, as board members of the KFVMDB. However, currently, the government entity’s board members consist only of traders.
This is not the first time that a government body is conducting a study on controlling the anomalies in farm products. About six months ago, the department submitted a report of vegetables dealers and farmers in Dhading, Kavrepalanchok, Palungtar and Nuwakot to the ministry that also showed how farmers and consumers were being cheated by traders.
“Our studies found that there is a high level of involvement by the cartel in fixing prices. They manipulate the supply chain as per their interest and then increases prices significantly,” said the Kumar Dahal, the former director general of the department.
Dahal said they even recommended the government to install collection centres near production points and constructing warehouses in the Kalimati market to ensure the farmer’s role in the vegetable-supply chain.
A separate study, conducted by the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development, in 2014, had also come up with a similar conclusion.
The report had recommended that to develop market infrastructures, to improve market competitiveness and to reduce the number of middlemen or their profit margins, the establishment of effective market information systems and collection centres near production areas are crucial.