Kathmandu lives on halved vegetable supply

Kathmandu, April 24:

On the 19th day of the strike called by seven political parties, the supply of vegetables continues to be about 50 per cent in the main vegetable market at Kalimati in the city.

However, the import of onions and chillies from India has come to a complete halt. The prices of other domestically produced vegetables like tomato, lady’s finger, parbal, cabbage and cauliflower have also risen steeply.

Vijay Sapkota, an administrative officer at Kalimati Fruits and Vegetables Market Development Board (KFVMDB), informed The Himalayan Times that despite the strike and curfew, perishable vegetables are being imported to Kathmandu’s main vegetable market, the Kalimati Market, from districts like Parsa, Dhading, Kavrepalanchowk, Sankhu in Kathmandu district and Bhaktapur with army escorts.

He said that five tonnes of fish from India reached Kalimati market yesterday, alone.

Yesterday, 50 metric tonnes of potato has also been transported to Kalimati market from Bhaktapur and Kavre with army escort, informed Sapkota. About 50 metric tonnes of vegetables were brought to Kalimati from Dhading, which included vegetables like lady’s finger, parbal, cabbage, cauliflower and radish.

On a normal day, transaction in vegetables at Kalimati market reaches about Rs 10 million but after the strike, it has dropped to less than half, according to Sapkota. Before the strike, Kalimati used to store 400 to 500 metric tonnes of vegetables which has gone down to about 200 metric tonnes these days. This has fuelled vegetable prices, according to Sapkota. Even as the supply of vegetables has dropped by about fifty per cent into the city, profiteering has fuelled prices of vegetables and added to the woes of consumers. The price of vegetables varies hugely from place-to-place within Kathmandu.

Rabindra Sharma, a consumer from New Baneshwor, while talking to this daily expressed his anger at the skyrocketing prices of vegetables. He said that even tomato per kg costs Rs 45. However, tomato per kg costs only Rs 10 at Kalimati, says Sapkota.

Geeta Khanal, a consumer at Old Sinamangal informed that the price of vegetables, especially perishable ones, has gone up in recent days. She said, “A kg of tomato and onion costs Rs 70 and Rs 100, respectively.” She said that it has been difficult to survive due to high levels of inflation. She said that even a piece of lemon costs Rs 20 now.

Shanti Basnet, a resident of Bhaktapur also expressed his worry saying that the cost of vegetables has gone up exorbitantly especially after the strike. She says that the price of tomato per kg has increased to Rs 35 from an earlier Rs 12, due to the strike. Due to a halt in the import of onions from India, per kg of onion now costs Rs 70 from an earlier Rs 13, she says. Bitter gourd (Tite Karela) per kg costs Rs 125 currently, which was prices at only Rs 35 before the strike, Basnet informed.