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Vegetable prices soar as production declines



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By Laxman Kafle
Kathmandu, Apr. 25: The price of green vegetables has collectively risen over the last couple of weeks in the Capital and customers as well as vegetable traders have felt the adverse impact of the same. Reduction in supplies is said to be the cause driving up the prices.
According to the price index of the Kalimati Fruits and Vegetable Market Development Board (KFVMDB), vegetable prices have gone up by 50 per cent since the first week of April.
The wholesale price for cabbage, cauliflower, beans, capsicum, bitter gourd and okra have all shot up, derailing the household budget of many residents who are already hit by the Covid-induced slowdown.
“The supply of vegetables dropped by 30 per cent in the last three weeks due to lack of production across the country, which has led to an increase in their prices,” said Binaya Shrestha, information officer at KFVMDB.
“Three weeks ago, around 800 tonnes of vegetables used to enter the Kalimati market daily. Now, the quantity of vegetables supplied has declined to no more than 600 tonnes per day,” he said.
In wholesale markets, the price of cabbage has reached Rs. 60 per kg, yardlong bean (asparagus bean) to Rs. 100 per kg, local cauliflower to Rs. 70, bitter gourd is being sold at Rs. 65 per kg, radish for Rs. 70 and okra for Rs. 70 per kg.
However, the price of tomatoes and potatoes has remained the same at Rs. 25 and Rs. 30 per kg respectively at Kalimati, said Information Officer Shrestha.
At present, vegetables from surrounding districts including Kavrepalanchowk, Dhading, Makwanpur are entering in large amounts compared to other areas.
Out of the total number of vegetables supplied in the Kalimati market, around 40 per cent is imported from India, he said. Around 70 tonnes of onion and 100 tonnes of potatoes are being imported from India daily, according to KFVMDB.
The production of local vegetables has decreased due to the dry spell in the pre-monsoon season. "We haven't received much rainfall this season as a result of which supply of local vegetables is likely to remain low for a month," he added.
Consumers are forced to pay double the wholesale price as they buy vegetables from retail shops.
“Until the government starts monitoring the retail market effectively, consumers will continue getting ripped off by shopkeepers,” said Shrestha.
"We have to pay high price of vegetables in the retail market compared to the wholesale market. We understand that retailers need to add profit margins, but they have been doubling the prices,” expressed Sita Adhikari of Gatthaghar, Bhaktapur.
Local buyers like Adhikari are troubled by the significant gap in the price range offered by wholesalers and that of retailers.
Sanjaya Shrestha, a retailer of Gatthaghar, Bhaktapur, agreed that there is an alarming discrepancy in prices. “Retail price of capsicum reached Rs. 140 per kg, beans Rs. 135, okra Rs. 100 and mushroom Rs. 200 per kg,” he informed.