Wholesale prices of vegetables jump as supply shrinksProduction has fallen due to constant rain resulting in reduced deliveries, officials say.
The wholesale prices of vegetables have jumped over the week with traders attributing the sharp rise to short supply.
According to the price index of the Kalimati Fruits and Vegetable Market Development Board published on Sunday, the wholesale price of potato red and white, cabbage, cauliflower local, French bean local and hybrid, bitter gourd, pointed gourd local, snake gourd, smooth gourd, okra and eggplant has gone up steeply.
Binaya Shrestha, deputy director of the board, said that production had fallen in recent days due to constant rain resulting in reduced deliveries. “Demand has been increasing and shipments have not been able to keep pace,” he said.
The Kalimati market is receiving around 550 tonnes of vegetables daily compared to 700-800 tonnes before.
According to Shrestha, the board has not listed retail prices even though the retail market opened on May 14 because of the small volume of transactions. It has been more than a month since the market has remained open throughout the day, he said.
Prices of most seasonal vegetables have gone up. The wholesale price of potato red and white has swelled by 35 percent to Rs51-48 per kg. Expected potato shipments from India have not arrived, and the price of Nepali potato has increased slightly, he said.
The price of cauliflower local increased by 26 percent to Rs48 per kg while eggplant jumped by 50 percent to Rs42 per kg.
French bean local costs Rs65 per kg wholesale, up 18 percent, while hybrid costs Rs68 per kg, up 23 percent.
The price of bitter gourd has also increased by 15 percent and reached Rs38 per kg while pointed gourd local was priced at Rs42 per kg, an increase of 10 percent.
The price of snake gourd rose by 35 percent to Rs38 per kg. The price of smooth gourd increased by 132 percent to Rs65 per kg. Okra has increased by 52 percent to Rs58 per kg from Rs38 per kg last week.
Because the board has not published retail prices, vegetable sellers in the local market are fixing prices on their own. Small traders have been engaged in price gouging since the lockdown began three months ago on different pretexts for lack of market monitoring by the government.
Resham Tamang, administrator at the Balkhu Agriculture Vegetable Market, said that the wholesale price is expected to increase sharply in the coming days due to a decline in supply.
Prices had hit rock bottom after the lockdown began as sales evaporated due to the stay-home order, and farmers could not even break even, he said.
“After not getting a fair value for the crops, farmers let their vegetables rot in the fields and started transplanting paddy or something else which created a shortage of fresh produce in the market, thus pushing up prices,” he said.
Prices are unlikely to come down soon until new harvests start arriving in the market, he added.
Most of the vegetables sold in the Balkhu market come from Makwanpur, Tistung and Palung; and according to Tamang, farmers allowed their vegetables to go to waste in the fields as the prices were too low.
Potato grown in Tistung, Palung and Mude has been arriving in the market, but the quantities are too small to fulfil the valley's requirement, he said. The price of potato has increased to Rs40 per kg this year, up from Rs30 per kg wholesale.
According to Tamang, the market has been receiving 300 tonnes of vegetables daily while it used to get around 600 tonnes previously. Except for onion and lemon from India, most of the vegetables sold at Balkhu are grown domestically, he said.