-- Demand for vegetable slightly down in Kalimati market
-- More people buying organic vegetables even though they are costly
-- More than 800 farms producing organic vegetables
KATHMANDU, July 29: Stores dealing on organic vegetables are doing brisk business after the government intensified crackdown against pesticide-laden fruits and vegetables.
“Our sales have doubled compared to a month ago. A large number of customers are visiting our store to purchase organic vegetables,” Bandi Sherpa, owner of Kapan-based Organic Farm House, told Republica. “We record daily sales of around Rs 12,000 these days.”
Organic Farm House sources organic vegetables like chili, potato, green bean, tomato and bottle gourds, among others, from its own farm.
“The demand is increasing every day, but we cannot increase supply overnight,” she lamented.
Similar is the case with capital´s prominent organic store -- Organic Agro Bazzar, Durbar Marg. The store, which is being run by Organic Agriculture Promotion Center (OAPC), has also witnessed significant growth in business in recent weeks. Dharma Raj Shrestha, chairman of OAPC, said they were recording daily sales of around Rs 50,000, up from around Rs 20,000 couple of months ago. “People´s growing preference for organic vegetables shows that there is a great scope for organic farming in Nepal. But the costly certification system is discouraging farmers,” Shrestha said.
According to Shrestha, farmers have to spend almost Rs 600,000 for the certification process.
OAPC has been giving space for organic vegetables grown by 19 farms. It has separate stalls for major vegetables.
“Large number of farmers will start organic farming once the certification process is made easy and affordable,” Shrestha said, adding that the trend of purchasing organic vegetables is growing every though they are comparatively expensive than vegetables grown through conventional farming.
There are more than 800 organic farms in the country, according to Shrestha. However, only around a dozen have acquired organic certification.
Apart from providing market for organic farmers, OAPC also plans to help farmers to acquire organic certification. “We are trying to collect fund from different government agencies as well as NGOs and INGOs for the purpose,” he added.
Sales of some vegetables grown through conventional farming have been dwindling in the wholesale market after the government started checking pesticide residue on fruits and vegetables. Tika Ram Sharma, executive director of Kalimati Fruits and Vegetable Market Development Board, said sales of potato, green beans and tomato, among others, have been affected after lab tests showed high pesticide residue on them. “As a result, people have reduced consumption of these vegetables. Those with high purchasing power are shifting to organic vegetables,” he added.
Supplies of vegetables at Kalimati vegetables market, however, have remained more or less the same. “The market is receiving an average 600 tons of vegetables a day at present. But demand has fallen slightly,” he added.
Ram Krishna Kunwar, executive director of Balkhu Vegetables Market, agreed with Sharma. “Demand for vegetables has dropped slightly after crackdown on pesticide-laden vegetables began. Traders complain that their vegetables often remain unsold,” he added.