Veg prices a runaway colt, govt wrings hands in vain

KATHMANDU: Looking at the data of the Kalimati Market Association, vegetable prices have risen enormously over the past one year.

Tomato, one of the most commonly consumed vegetables, has risen from Rs 11 a kg to Rs 50 per or maybe more in the retail market, displaying a price difference of 96.36 per cent in the past one year, and a price difference of 155 per cent over the past two years.

Basic products like potatoes haven’t been spared either, showing a 160 per cent rise in price over the past one year.

“One of the main reasons is untimely and insufficient yield due to lack of rains, aside from the fertilizer shortage,” said Binay Shrestha, Planning Officer for Kalimati Vegetable and Fruit Market Association.

Cabbage at Rs 7 per kg used to be the cheapest vegetable in the market. Priced at Rs 60 per kg just a month back, it is displaying a price difference of 421.59 per cent in one year and a price difference of 219.69 per cent over the past two years.

Vegetable sellers say that the frequent bandhs have disrupted smooth supply to the valley and as fruits and vegetables are perishable goods it is difficult to sustain them over long periods of time.

There has been a major shortage of fertilizer in the country for a very long time now, but now that the government has brought in fertilizer the farmers are feeling hopeful about good seasonal yields later into the year.

“The fertilizer procured now is very good and the rains have finally set in. So, the crop harvest next season should be substantial,” added Shrestha.

Though the valley has been lucky in that the supply of vegetables and fruits has been steady, yet because of the shortfall compared to demand prices have only risen.

“There must be a gap in demand and supply which has not been rendered much thought. The possibility of a rise in population in the valley could be a cause for this gap in demand and supply,” said Shrestha. Prices are rising on a weekly basis and nothing is being done to curb this surge.