KATHMANDU: The rising price of pulses and basic vegetables remain a serious concern. Over the past six months, a survey report by World Food Programme (WFP) of almost 500 households reveals that 60 per cent have switched to eating cheaper and less nutritous food.

In the past month alone, the national average price of musuro (broken lentil) increased by Rs 5 per kilo (Rs 108-Rs113) and the national average price of potato increased by Rs 4 (Rs 32- Rs 36). Compared to 18 months ago, the price of black gram and musuro has increased by approximately Rs 26 per kilo — a 30 per cent increase for black gram and a 67 per cent increase for musuro. The price of potato increased by approximately Rs 25 per kilo or by 116 percent over the last 18 months.

According to Market Watch’s report jointly produced by the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperative (MoAC) , WFP and Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FNCCI), the price of food grains remained stable due to harvesting and reopening of key roads following the monsoon.

The national average price of coarse rice in October across surveyed market was Rs 31 per kilo and wheat was Rs 33 per kilo. However, these prices are higher than what they were in the same period last year (up by 3 per cent) and significantly higher than prior years. Faced with these price increases and poor household food production, Nepal’s poorest families are switching to cheaper and less nutritious food as they cannot afford to maintain their normal diet.

A recent WFP survey of almost 500 households across 51 districts showed that in the last three months, on average 60 per cent of households changed their eating habits. The supply situation in food markets has been very bad in many hill and mountain districts over the past months due to poor crop production and monsoon damage to key transportation routes.

In October, the situation started to improve. However, various mountain and hill markets are still suffering from heavily depleted market stocks. Among the mountain markets regularly surveyed by WFP, only 14 per cent have sufficient supply of rice, 16 per cent sufficient supply of maize and 33 per cent sufficient supply of wheat. Mountain markets dependent upon the Karnali highway continue to be poorly supplied because of road damage from landslides in Dailekh and Kalikot yet to be repaired.