The price of most key food commodities remained high during March but stayed generally stable compared to last month. "The price of mustard oil, soybean oil, musuro (broken lentil), black gram and coarse rice were all within three per cent over February prices," said a report of the World Food Programme (WFP).
Compared to last year, musuro is up by 37 per cent, coarse rice by 16 per cent and soybean oil by 15 per cent. Prices of other key commodities are still inflated by 4 to 12 per cent, according to the report. High prices remain a serious concern as Nepal has not experienced any significant price reprieve since the global price hikes of mid-2008.
The report produced by WFP Nepal in collaboration with the Agri-business Promotion and Marketing Development Directorate, FNCCI and Consumer's Interest Protection Forum also reveals that nearly 40 per cent of hill and mountain markets had insufficient or depleted supply of coarse rice; mountain markets had no maize while only 15 per cent of hill markets had sufficient supply of maize and nationally only 40 per cent of markets had sufficient cooking gas/ kerosene supply.
"A 13-day bandh in the Tarai disrupted markets in Kailali, Banke and Parsa and caused severe supply scarcity and food insecurity in various hill and mountain feeder markets including Ilam, Dadeldhura, Baitadi, Bajhang, Achham, Bajura and Udaypur," it said.
Price hikes in these districts were largely correlated to increased supply constraints. Across Nepal, the combined impact of bandhs, seasonal reductions and other supply constraints resulted in an overall depletion of food stocks -- particularly in the mountains and hills, it said adding bandhs had significant impact on supply, disrupting a number of markets.In addition, government-subsidised rice was reportedly unable to reach the markets of Achham and Bajura and WFP food aid could not be delivered in far north districts like Mugu due to disrupted fuel supply in the Tarai.