The pandemic has caused vegetable prices to increase in the capital. Potato and cauliflower were available at Nu 50 kg and Nu 120 a kg, respectively, as against Nu 35 and Nu 100 a kg few months ago. While the prices of tomatoes and onion in retail market jumped to Nu 140 per kg and Nu 120 per kg after the lockdown. Onions which are still not available are priced at Nu 250 per kg when a little is available.
A vegetable vendor at Norzin Lam said that uncertainty over the Covid-19 lockdown has affected vegetable supply, causing prices to shoot up in the city.
“Tomatoes and potatoes are being sold at Nu 140 per kg and Nu 50 per kg, while other vegetables like sag, chillies and beans are also witnessing a price hike. Due to the hike, the number of buyers has reduced substantially,” she said.
Deki, 42 a CFM vendor said that the prices of the vegetables have gone up from the supplier and they do not have an option rather than increasing the prices of their products.
“Currently I am selling small chillies at Nu 300 a kg, Nu 80 for broccoli and Nu 45 for potato. The prices have gone up from the source itself and we have fixed a cost keeping the transportation charges in mind,” she said.
Passang 27, said that if people kept a close eye on vegetable price over the past few month, everybody may have noticed certain vegetable items are becoming more expensive.
“What’s more expensive since March is onion, Tomato, cauliflower and some vegetables are more expensive. I could only get so little in Nu 100,” he said.
Dawa Pem, a restaurant owner near CFM said, “The vegetable prices are so high that it is difficult to afford them. We do not have any option rather than increasing the price for our dishes.”
The soaring prices are burning a hole in the pockets of household budgets. Kencho, 34 said “After covid-19 we have reduced consumption of non-veg food but if the vegetable prices keep rising, we have nowhere to go. The government should look into the issue of price rise immediately.”
Rinchen Dema, a housewife, said, “The Covid-19 lockdown has had an adverse effect on finances of people and rise in vegetables prices has upset the household budget.”
According to the Chief Program Officer of Office of Consumer Protection Jigme Dorji, the prices are determined by the market forces and vegetable vendors through collusion are inflating the prices in the market.
He said it is difficult to determine the prices fixed by the vendors since they say it has been increased from the sources.
“We have noticed that these days’ handful of people are manipulating the prices and so we have discussed with the Ministry of Agriculture and Forests because they are the experts as they have all the information right from the input cost. We have requested them to fix the prices for the vegetables and based on our request they have fixed the prices. Considering the price fixed by them we will enforce the prices in the market. So it is easier for us to take actions,” he said.
He added that at the moment the prices have slightly gone up but there are not much consumer complaints regarding vegetable prices.
Meanwhile, a big factor in vegetable prices increasing has been the initial closure of the CFM and now its reopening by one third the strength.
This pushed a lot of people to buy from shops that have to pay higher rent than at the CFM and so charge more.
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