Vegetable prices to remain high until new harvestStock of rainy season vegetables brought from neighbouring districts have sold out and shipments from Tarai and India have yet to arrive, officials say.
Mamta Yadav grudgingly paid Rs150 for a kg of bitter gourd on Saturday. “Going to buy vegetables has become a nightmare these days. From potato to tomato, the price of daily essentials has increased several fold,” said the 34-year-old housewife from Baphal.
“How can one run a kitchen on a limited income with vegetable prices shooting up like that?” said Yadav whose husband is the sole income earner in her five-member family.
The wholesale price of eggplant jumped by 118 percent in two weeks from Rs48 per kg to Rs110 per kg at the Kalimati vegetable and fruit bazaar. The price of bitter gourd soared by 126 percent from Rs42 to Rs95 per kg.
Binaya Shrestha, deputy director of the Vegetable and Fruits Market Development Board, said that the stock of rainy season vegetables had sold out and the new harvest was yet to reach the market. “Prices will gradually start to decline as soon as the new harvest arrives,” he said.
Cowpea long was priced at Rs115 per kg, French bean local and hybrid at Rs95 per kg, and gourd at Rs70 per kg. The price of smooth gourd has jumped more than three times from Rs33 per kg to Rs115.
Sponge gourd increased by 41 percent from Rs58 per kg to Rs82, and the price of okra has gone up by 53 percent from Rs62 per kg to Rs95.
Likewise, cauliflower local has become dearer by 21 percent from Rs95 per kg to Rs115, and the price of cowpea long has soared by 47 percent from Rs78 per kg to Rs115. The price of French bean local and hybrid has increased by 21 percent and 11 percent respectively to Rs95 per kg each.
The price of pointed gourd local has jumped by 47 percent from Rs78 per kg to Rs115.
The Kalimati vegetable market has been receiving around 500,000 kg of vegetables on a daily basis. Shrestha said that supply had started increasing gradually.
Resham Tamang, administrator at the Balkhu Agriculture Vegetable Market, said that vegetables brought from the neighbouring districts had all been sold, and prices had increased because vegetable shipments from the Tarai and India were yet to arrive.
Farmers did not get fair prices for their produce during the first lockdown due to which they have cut output, he said.
Until the seasonal vegetables arrive, prices are unlikely to go down, said Tamang. Vegetables will become cheaper after shipments start coming from the Tarai and India, he added.
According to Tamang, the market has been receiving 400 tonnes of vegetables in recent days compared to around 700 tonnes before.
Consumer rights activists said that the problem of arbitrary hikes in prices appears time and again because the government has not been able to control the middlemen in the vegetable trade.
Madhav Timilsina, president of the Consumer Rights Investigation Forum, said that the government had not fixed the market layers yet, and most of the traders do not keep invoices due to which retail prices are jacked up steeply causing distress to consumers.
Local government agencies should conduct market inspection of vegetables, fruits and meat products continuously, he said.
According to a Nepal Rastra Bank report, the price of vegetables increased by 28.21 percent in mid-August 2020 from a month ago.