Veggie, meat prices unlikely to drop till festivities end

Kathmandu, September 30

This year’s Dashain and Tihar festivals are likely to be costly affairs for consumers, as prices of vegetables and meat are unlikely to drop until the festive season is over.

As per the Kalimati Fruits and Vegetable Market Development Board, the average price of red potatoes is Rs 75 per kg, Rs 15 more than a month ago; a kg of green beans costs Rs 140, sword beans Rs 110 per kg, bitter gourd Rs 120 per kg and bottle gourd, luffa gourd, green pumpkin and okra cost Rs 90 per kg. A month back, prices of green beans, sword beans and bitter gourd were Rs 70 per kg, Rs 90 per kg and Rs 60 a kg, respectively, while bottle gourd, luffa gourd, green pumpkin and okra were priced at Rs 60 per kg, Rs 50 per kg, Rs 60 per kg and Rs 80 per kg, respectively.

Spinach that used to cost around Rs 70 per kg a month ago costs anything between Rs 110 and Rs 210 a kg these days. The price of mushroom has reached Rs 190 per kg from Rs 70 a kg in a month.

Above all, the price of onion has risen at an alarming rate in the domestic market, shooting up daily. Just a month back onion used to cost Rs 70 per kg, but today it had touched Rs 140 per kg; it cost Rs 110 a kg yesterday.

“Onions imported from India cater to 90 per cent of the demand in the country and at present onion is expensive in India itself,” explained Khom Prasad Ghimire, president of the Federation of Fruits and Vegetables Entrepreneurs. “As the production of onions in India has declined sharply this year, its price has risen substantially across the border,” he said.

Moreover, India banned export of onions on Sunday citing the soaring price. This will be another reason for onion price hike during this festive season, Ghimire added.

“Talking of other vegetables, not only has their production dropped in the country, but imports have also been sluggish. The low availability is surely going to affect prices,” he said. He added that vegetable prices are unlikely to dip for another month.

The price of meat is also unlikely to go down during the festivals. Due to the government’s strict quarantine check on imported livestock, goat import has declined in the last few months causing shortage of mutton in the market. “Local production alone cannot meet market demand, especially during festivals. More than half of our market demand is dependent on imported products,” said Deepak Thapa, former president of Nepal Livestock Traders Association.

Due to shortage of goats, the price of mutton is likely to reach Rs 1,500 per kg in the coming days, Thapa added. Currently, mutton costs Rs 1,100 to Rs 1,300 a kg. “Although goats and mountain goats are available easily, the supply is unlikely to meet the festive demand,” he said, “Even though the government has promised to ease the situation, no initiative has been taken yet.”

He, however, said market share of local goats had increased this year. “Earlier, local goats used to meet 20 per cent of demand during festivals. However, this year the share has increased to 45 per cent,” Thapa said. According to him, around 50,000 to 55,000 goats and mountain goats are consumed in Kathmandu valley during the festive season.