Krishna Prasain, The Kathmandu Post, April 09, 2019
Vegetable prices plunged up to 50 percent in the past week after recording a steep rise last month when rains had hit supplies. Prices had surged up to 66 percent around a month ago after deliveries were disrupted.
According to Binay Shrestha, deputy general manager of the Kalimati Fruits and Vegetable Market Development Board, vegetable shipments are arriving regularly from the Tarai as farmers are bringing in fresh harvests. As a result, vegetable prices are going down, he added.
The arrival of domestic seasonal vegetables has pushed down prices, and they are expected to fall further in the coming days, said Shrestha. “Prices of seasonable vegetables will decrease gradually,” he said.
Vegetables like tomato small, eggplant long and round, black-eyed bean, string bean, sword bean, broad bean, bitter gourd, green pea, bottle gourd, pointed gourd, okra and broccoli became cheaper by up to 50 percent in a week.
The average retail price of bitter gourd decreased by 51 percent to Rs95 per kg on Monday at the Kalimati Fruits and Vegetable Market. Black-eyed bean also became cheaper by 51 percent and was selling for Rs105 per kg. The price of these vegetables will decline gradually with an increase in supply, said Shrestha.
Cauliflower and cabbage now cost Rs45 and Rs25 per kg respectively. Wholesale prices of cauliflower and cabbage are down 65 percent compared to the same period last year, said Resham Tamang, administrator at the Balkhu Fruit and Vegetable Market. Cauliflower and cabbage now cost Rs15 per kg each, a sharp fall from Rs50 per kg during the same period last year.
Farmers tend to plant the same crops again when they get good returns from them, leading to a glut in supplies and a drop in prices, traders said.
Vegetable prices had gone up previously as most off-season vegetables are imported from India, said Shrestha. Vegetables such as cauliflower and cabbage are now being grown all year round in the country, said Tamang. The Kathmandu Valley gets most of its supply of vegetables from Dhading, Chitwan, Makwanpur, Nuwakot, Birgunj, Bara and Saptari districts.
The Kalimati Fruits and Vegetable Market provides 500 tonnes of fresh vegetables daily while the Balkhu Fruit and Vegetable Market supplies 650 tonnes.
According to Nepal Rastra Bank statistics, Nepal imported vegetables worth Rs9.29 billion in the first seven months of the current fiscal year from India. This represents a 34.7 percent increase year-on-year.