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Vegetable prices plunge as lockdown keeps customers away from market in Nepal

A farmer carries freshly harvested cucumbers in a bamboo basket at a farm in Bhaktapur. POST PHOTO: KABIN ADHIKARI. Sketched by the Pan Pacific Agency.

KATHMANDU, Jun 4, 2020, The Kathmandu Post. Vegetable prices dropped by half as the peak production season got underway, keeping markets fully stocked with fresh produce, The Kathmandu Post reported.

Traders said wholesale prices at the Kalimati Fruits and Vegetable Market had gone down by more than 50 percent due to the surge in supply. Most seasonal vegetables cost around Rs20 per kg.

Tomato small, cauliflower local, bitter gourd, pointed gourd, snake gourd, pumpkin, okra, eggplant and leafy greens have all become cheaper.

Vegetables like potato red and white, cabbage, cow pea long and French bean (long and hybrid) cost from Rs10 to Rs30 per kg.

Manoj Dhital, senior marketing officer at the Kalimati Fruits and Vegetable Market Development Board, said there are few customers because people are forced to stay home due to the lockdown restrictions.

“Except for onion and lemon, almost all vegetables being sold at the Kalimati market are domestically grown,” he said.

Average wholesale rates are down 76 percent year-on-year as demand has evaporated due to the virus lockdown, said vegetable traders.

Tomato small, cauliflower local, cabbage, eggplant, cow pea, French bean, bitter gourd, bottle gourd, pointed gourd, snake gourd, smooth gourd, pumpkin, squash and okra have all become cheaper, they said.

On Wednesday, the wholesale price of tomato small reached Rs18 per kg while cabbage was priced at Rs9 per kg. Bitter gourd was priced at Rs18 per kg, a steep 45 percent drop over a fortnight. The price of snake gourd fell by 54 percent over the past two weeks to Rs18 per kg,

According to the Kalimati Fruits and Vegetable Market Development Board, the market is receiving 500-600 tonnes of vegetables from Dhading, Makwanpur, Kabhre, Nuwakot and Chitwan districts and the Tarai plains. The Kalimati wholesale bazaar remains open for business from 2 to 8 am.

Many farmers have been forced to watch their vegetable crops rot in the fields for lack of transportation to get them to market.

Resham Tamang, administrator at the Balkhu Agriculture Vegetable Market, said that most vegetables cost around Rs20 per kg wholesale. With the arrival of seasonal vegetables, prices have taken a dive, he added.

The drop in the wholesale price of vegetables has not been passed on to retail customers, however. At the Machhapokhari market, consumers are being charged Rs40-50 per kg for vegetables that cost Rs20 per kg wholesale, said Tamang.

The Balkhu Agriculture Vegetable Market gets around 400 tonnes of vegetables daily, most of which are domestically grown.

Krishana Prasain is a business reporter for The Kathmandu Post covering markets. Before joining The Kathmandu Post in 2018, she spent 3 years in New Business Age magazine covering business.

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