Wholesellers know their onions!

KATHMANDU: When people chop onions, most of them shed tears. It’s because a lachrymosal compound within the chopped onion is released that causes the eyes to water. Now, it’s

the price of onions also that is making people weep. The price has jumped to almost

double — from Rs 20.4 per kg to Rs 32.8 per kg — in the wholesale market.

“The new rate is alarming,” said Tulsi Das Gautam, executive director of Kalimati Fruits and Vegetables Market Development Board (KFVMDB). “It is a 60 per cent hike in two weeks,” he said adding that the supply of onion has reduced by 30 to 40 per cent. In retail, onion is being sold from Rs 36 to Rs 40 per kg depending on the time of purchase. “I have old stock of Rs 22 per kg so I am selling it at Rs 36,” said a shopkeeper in Bagbazar on condition of anonymity, “The new purchase will be priced above Rs 50 per kg.”

Onion is one of most widely consumed vegetables in Nepal. According to a study by the Department of Commerce (DoC), an average Nepali consumes 12 kg onions per year. Earlier, in 1998, Nepal faced skyrocketing price of onion ranging from Rs 12 to Rs 50 per kg.

Consumer rights defenders are blaming the government for slow response. The government notices such things but doesn’t take action on time, said Ramchandra Simkhada, general secretary of Consumer Rights Protection Forum. “The price hike is not due to shortage of onion in the market,” he said, “The government must check the stocks of stockists.”

Onion price has doubled in a week — reached Rs 24 per kg from Rs 12 per kg— in neighbouring India. The highest price of one kg onion Rs 32 was recorded in Jaipur, capital city of Rajasthan state.

People are angry at the rapidly increasing price of consumer goods. “I am surprised at

the onion price,” said Subash Karki who was purchasing

vegetables at Khasibazar vegetable market.

Housewife Anjana Sharma of mid-Baneshwor worried that onion also might disappear from the kitchen. “Like potatoes, onions also may become a dream,” she said.

Potato price has increased after Dashain after a slight reduction in the period. A Dharni (2.5 kg) of potatoes is sold in the retail market for Rs 105.

According to KFVMDB, the price of one kg potato in the wholesale market was Rs 37.50 on September 10 which reduced during Dashain — Rs 35.6 on September 17 and Rs 34.4 on September 24. However, it has kangaroo-hopped to Rs 38.4 per kg today.