Vegetables prices shoot up due to lack of market inspectionThe retail price of vegetables has increased by up to Rs66 per kg.
Prices of green vegetables in the Kathmandu Valley have soared due to lack of effective market inspection, said officials of the Kalimati Fruits and Vegetables Market Development Board and consumer rights activists.
The board's records show that the retail price of vegetables has increased by up to Rs66 per kg.
“Unscrupulous traders have been hiking prices citing recent incessant rains despite adequate production,” said Binay Shrestha, deputy general manager of the board.
Vegetable dealers have jacked up prices to coincide with Sorah Shraddha, a 16-day ritual when people conduct services in honour of deceased ancestors, as demand for fresh produce shoots up during this time of the year.
“If there was effective monitoring on a regular basis, prices would not have leapt as high as they have,” said Shrestha.
Prices of vegetables such as small tomato, red potato, onion, cabbage, cauli local, eggplant long, cow pea, French bean local, French bean hybrid, bitter gourd, bottle gourd, pointed gourd, smooth gourd, squash and okara, in particular, have gone up sharply.
Eggplant was selling at Rs95 per kg on Monday as prices rose by 27 percent within a week. Similarly, the price of cowpea and French bean each rose by 47 percent to Rs125 per kg.
The price of onions also jumped by 23 percent to Rs115 per kg reportedly due to decreased shipments from India, according to the Balkhu Fruits and Vegetables Market.
“Importers have hiked the price of onion saying that the existing stocks have sold out, and fresh deliveries from India are yet to arrive,” said Resham Tamang, administrator at the Balkhu Fruits and Vegetables Market.
Around 90 percent of Nepal's requirement of onion is fulfilled by imports.
Tamang said that there was no appropriate reason for the price hike of other fresh vegetables as the Valley was receiving an adequate supply of farm products. According to him, the Balkhu Fruits and Vegetables Market receives around 600 tonnes of vegetables daily.
Consumer rights activists also blamed poor market monitoring for the hike in prices of vegetables. “Middlemen have hiked prices taking advantage of lax government inspection due to the upcoming festivals,” said Madhav Timilsina, president of the Consumers’ Right Investigation Forum.
A series of panels formed by the government had recommended making purchase bills mandatory to ensure transparency in the price paid to farmers, and reduce the involvement of middlemen in the supply chain. As government agencies responsible for conducting market monitoring have failed to implement the recommendations, middlemen are having a field day.