Kathmandu, October 26
With the five-day Tihar festival starting from Friday, the sales of dried fruits have started to go up in the market.
Traders have been doing brisk business of dried fruits, also popularly called as ‘Bhai Masala’ lately as Valley dwellers have begun to throng the market seeking dried fruits like almonds, cashew nuts, raisins, walnuts, pistachios, among others.
The demand of dried fruits rockets during Tihar because sisters give special gifts that comprise of dried fruits, fresh fruits and other candies to their brothers as per the common practice during Bhai Tika — the last day of the five-day festival.
“Though giving ‘Bhai Masala’ to brothers was not practised much few decades ago, it has become popular in recent years,” Menuka Chalise, a 49-years old homemaker, said. She was purchasing dried fruits at Makhan, one of the major markets of dried fruits in the Valley. Chalise said that dried fruits have become dearer this year compared to the previous years.
More than 85 per cent of dried fruits consumed during Tihar have to be imported from countries like India, China, Pakistan Indonesia, Brazil, among others, traders say.
According to Shyam Kaji Shrestha, a Makhan-based retailer, dried fruits have become slightly dearer in the market following the rise in their price in the source countries.
“Shoppers had started thronging the market seeking dried fruits since two weeks. Though the price of dried fruits has slightly increased, its demand has also gone up this year compared to previous year,” Shrestha said.
Traders say that around 60 to 70 per cent of annual sales of dried fruits take place during Dashain and Tihar
Traders across Makhan, Ason, New Road among other major markets of dried fruits have been selling cashew nuts within price range of Rs 1,150 to Rs 1,200 per kg in wholesale market and at price range of Rs 1,600 to Rs 1,700 in the retail market. While the wholesale price of almonds is Rs 1,500 per kg in, its price ranges between Rs 1,600 and Rs 1,700 in the retail market. Raisins are available at Rs 650 per kg in the wholesale market and for Rs 700 to Rs 750 in the retail market.
Similarly, traders have been selling pistachios at Rs 1,600 per kg at wholesale rate while its retail price ranges from
Rs 1,700 to Rs 1,800 in the market. Another popular dried fruit, walnut, is available at Rs 600 per kg in wholesale market and Rs 650 per kg in the retail market.
This shows that there is no uniformity in price of dried fruits in the market and traders have been charging as per their discretion.
The government monitoring teams have not visited these markets to inspect the prices, even though Department of Supply and Consumer Welfare Protection (DoSCWP) — the government body authorised to carry market monitoring — claims that the department is carrying out inspections on daily basis targeting festive markets.
A version of this article appears in print on October 27, 2016 of The Himalayan Times.