Price curve gives no relief

KATHMANDU: July saw a rise in the prices of most of the staple food commodities.

“In comparison to prices in June, the price of rice increased on an average by three per cent, black gram by seven per cent, lentils by two per cent and the wheat by one per cent, respectively,” said a report jointly produced by World Food Programme (WFP), Food Security Monitoring and Analysis System, Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives (MoAC), Department of Agriculture, Agribusiness Promotion and Marketing Development Directorate, Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industries (FNCCI) and Consumer Interest Protection Forum (CIPF).

Supply constraints have pushed up the prices of vegetables and fruits. The average price of potatoes in Nepal is more than double last year’s price. The price of cabbage is nearly five times higher than a year ago due to landslides and damage to roads, trails and supply disruption — particularly in hill and mountain districts.

“The supply of fresh fruits and vegetables has decreased significantly,” the report revealed. In the Kalimati Fruit and Vegetable Market in Kathmandu, the average daily supply of vegetables, fruits and spices has reportedly decreased by almost half compared to last year — down by around 300 tonnes a day due to poor harvest because of drought, according to the report of July.

The government, though it had promised to take measures to improve food supply to contain the price hike, has failed to crack the whip on the price hike due to rise in hoarding and curtailing. However, oil prices came down in July in comparison to June. “After toucing a peak — at the end of 2008 — the price of cooking oil has gradually decreased. As compared to June, mustard oil is down by three per cent and soybean oil is down by four per cent,” said the report.

The price of chicken — in major consumer markets — also fell by around three per cent in June. But, in August it is expected to increase due to a recent announcement of price increases (by five rupees for live chickens and by seven rupees per processed) by poultry entrepreneurs in Kathmandu.

According to Nepal Rastra Bank’s macro-economic data of the 11th month (mid-June), the price hike has come down to 12.3 per cent from 12.9 per cent in the 10th month (by mid-May ) of the fiscal year 2008-09.

Drought hits

CHITWAN: This year, over 20 cultivable rice fields are barren in Chitwan following prolonged drought. Farmers transplanted the rice seedlings only after mid-Shrawan. They were forced to transplant 40 days old rice seedlings. Generally, 25 days old rice seedlings are good for plantation. This year, the district will see a drastic fall in rice production as over 20 per cent of the arable land, mostly in the western belt, has been left barren due to the long drought, said the District Agricultural Development Office. Rice production will go down by 30 per cent in the district this year compared to last year. The district with 46,894 hectares of cultivable land had a yield of 94,896 metric tonnes of rice. — RSS