Nepal Food Corporation's Martadi-based branch in Bajura has run out of rice stock, leaving the locals worried.

According to NFC branch Chief Mekharaj Ojha, the branch has sold 4,800 quintals of rice this year. "It's been two days since our stock was sold out. Now we have some 50 quintals of rice remaining, but as it is meant for district prison, we don't have any stock to sell to the general public," he said.

Ojha, however, added that the branch would soon receive more rice. "We will get 3,500 quintals of rice sent from Dhangadi and Mahendranagar in a few weeks," he said.

Meanwhile, the rice shortage at the corporation has compelled the locals to buy the food grains at an exorbitant price from the market.

"The food office sells two varieties of rice at subsidised prices of Rs 45 and Rs 66 a kilogram. Since the office has run out of its stock, we have to buy at a higher rate from the market," said a local. Regarding the customers' complaints regarding exorbitant price of rice, local traders said since they also bought rice at high price they had to increase the price.

"As for the thick grain rice, we could buy it at 35 rupees in Dhangadi, earlier, but now as it costs us more than 40 rupees per kg, there is no way we could sell it at the same rate now also," said trader Nawaraj Paneru.

Local civil society leader Nimendra Shahi accused the traders of profiteering. On his part, Assistant Chief District Officer said his office was carrying out regular monitoring in the market. "We've also heard about black marketing, but so far we haven't received any complaint about the same," he said, adding a market monitoring team had, earlier, taken action against five traders who were found selling cooking oil at unusually high price.

A version of this article appears in the print on May 22, 2021, of The Himalayan Times.